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A Free Hearing Test By Phone

If you need the television louder than the rest of your family or are constantly asking people to repeat themselves, you may be suffering from hearing loss. A simple and convenient test is now available, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

More than 25 million Americans have some type of hearing impairment, but most don't realize it. The problem is difficult to detect, because hearing loss often develops gradually, with no pain or discomfort.

However, doctors have developed a quick and easy way for people to test their hearing that is approved by the government. It's called, "Dial A Hearing Screening Test," and it is administered over the telephone.

Here's how it works:

Call 1-800-222-EARS anytime between Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You will be directed to a local phone number to call to take the audio tests. The test is provided free by hospitals; ear, nose and throat clinics; and audiology centers across the nation.

Call the number from a quiet room using a good telephone connection. A recording gives you complete instructions and the quick exam consists of a series of tones for each ear.

If you hear them all, your hearing is fine. If you don't, you need to see a doctor for more extensive testing.

While the test is useful for adults, children may not be able to accurately tell their parents what they hear. Younger children especially get distracted easily, making it hard for them to pay attention to the test. Parents concerned about a child's hearing should observe their behavior instead. If a parent can't get a child's attention using speech or the child has a delay in speech development, a pediatrician should be consulted as soon as possible.

Certain hearing problems for children or adults require a doctor's care immediately. Dizziness, a ringing in the ears, drainage, or any pain or discomfort could indicate hearing problems, and should be looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.

Reported By Dr. Emily Senay

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