Regular Hearing Tests
Hearing tests are provided on a regular basis for children as part of routine NHS screening, which is designed to pick up hearing problems at an early age. Newborn babies undergo hearing tests and tests are also recommended for toddlers and for children when they are due to start school at the age of 4-5 years old.
In adulthood, hearing tests are generally only performed when patients have concerns about their hearing or they have suffered injuries, which may have an impact on their hearing.
If you think that you may be experiencing hearing loss or you can’t hear as well as you could before, it is a good idea to arrange a hearing test. You can do this by arranging to see your GP or by booking a private hearing test at an audiology clinic or a high street pharmacy or optician, which also offers private audiology services.
Initially, you may have a brief hearing test, which will last around 15 minutes; if issues are highlighted, it may be advisable to undergo further testing. If you require further tests, these will be arranged at your local audiology department if you choose to have NHS treatment. If you have had private tests, the longer, more detailed tests will usually be available at the same facility.
Once the tests have been performed, the results will be evaluated and your audiologist will discuss them with you and talk you through your treatment options.
Generally speaking, it’s not necessary to arrange regular hearing tests if you don’t have any problems with your hearing; however, you may wish to keep an eye on your hearing by doing some simple and quick online tests from time to time. If you do start to worry that your hearing is going downhill, it’s a good idea to see your GP or book a private test as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the problems get worse.
Many private hearing aid dispensers now offer free private hearing tests, so it can pay to go private, as waiting times tend to be shorter and you don’t need to see your GP first. If you have an NHS hearing test, you can still buy a private hearing aid and if you have a private hearing test, you can still receive further treatment on the NHS free of charge if you don’t wish to buy a private hearing aid.
If you wish to have specialist hearing tests, these may not be available on the NHS and you may have to pay to go privately; examples of these tests include speech audiometry, obscure auditory dysfunction test (OAD) and middle ear function and threshold equalizing noise assessments. If you are not sure which types of hearing test are available on the NHS, ask your GP for details; they will be able to tell you where you can access the test you wish to have and whether or not you will have to pay.
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