Hearing Exams in Adults

Hearing loss is common in adults. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), more than 30 percent of people over the age of 65 and 14 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing tests are a voluntary part of adult health care, but it is recommended that all adults between the ages of 18 and 50 are screened for hearing loss at least once every 10 years, and that adults over the age of 50 are screened every 3 years. Hearing screening in adults involves taking a complete medical history and performing a physical examination and conventional audiometry.

A medical history includes a personal history of conditions that can affect hearing (e.g., infections, certain medications, head trauma) and of symptoms (e.g., ear pain, ringing or buzzing in the ears [tinnitus], dizziness [vertigo]). It also includes important information about family history of hearing loss or hereditary conditions that can cause hearing loss.

In conventional audiometry, the patient is instructed to raise his or her hand, nod his or her head, or point to the appropriate ear in response to hearing a tone (also called pure-tone screening). In adults, the patient's personal judgment about his or her hearing and information about noticeable hearing loss from close family members and friends are considered as well.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015