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Hearing screening for adults of all ages: Using the hearWHO app

Hearing Screening for Adults of All Ages

Using the hearWHO app

What is hearing health and hearing loss?

As we get older, our hearing changes. For most of us, our hearing changes so slowly that we are not aware that hearing loss is happening.

But hearing loss can impact your overall health and well-being. And the earlier hearing loss is identified, the better. When you find hearing loss early, you can work with your healthcare provider to manage it and reduce its negative effects. To manage hearing loss, your healthcare provider can talk with you about communication strategies or devices like hearing aids.

It is important to have your hearing checked regularly even if you feel your hearing is fine. Regular hearing checks need to begin when you are 50 years old. See the recommended screening schedule for adults below.

Hearing health is part of your overall health. Research shows that unmanaged hearing loss can have a negative impact on social and mental well-being, as well as cognitive (thinking) function. For example, hearing loss is one of many risk factors that, when managed, may lower your risk of dementia.

When is hearing screening recommended?

The World Health Organization recommends that starting at age 50, all adults have their hearing screened (checked) every 5 years until they are 65 years old. At age 65, they recommend having hearing screening done every 1 to 3 years.

A hearing screening is not a full hearing test. A hearing screening is an initial test to see if you need more in-depth hearing testing.

Can I do my own hearing screening?

Yes. If you would like to check your hearing, the World Health Organization developed a free app called hearWHO that can be downloaded onto Apple or Android phones or tablets.

Once you download the app, find a quiet area to do the hearing screening. Follow the instructions in the app to get your hearWHO app score. The app will tell you what your score means. Keep track of your scores over time to monitor your hearing.

If your hearing screening results show that you may have hearing loss, talk to an audiologist (hearing specialist).

Is there a way to check my hearing that doesn’t require an app?

Yes. You can use a 10-item questionnaire called the Revised Hearing Handicap Inventory Screening Tool. This tool asks about the impact of hearing loss in your day-to-day life. A score of 6 or higher means that you may have hearing loss and you should talk to an audiologist.

I have a hearing problem, can I still check my hearing with the hearWHO app?

If you have a hearing problem that has been identified by an audiologist or if you wear hearing aids, a hearing screening is not recommended. If you have a known hearing problem, talk with your audiologist.

When should I get help?

Talk with an audiologist or doctor if you have:

  • sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss in one or both ears
  • ear or hearing damage caused by taking medicines or being exposed to chemicals or noise
  • ear pain or discharge
  • dizziness
  • hearing screening results that show you may have a hearing loss

How common is hearing loss in adults?

Hearing loss is common in adults. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition for adults after arthritis and heart disease. Approximately 1 in 10 adults 40 to 49 years of age, 5 in 10 adults 60 to 69 years of age, and 9 in 10 adults 80 years and older live with hearing loss.

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Current as of: February 3, 2023

Author: Provincial Audiology Professional Practice, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.