The idea of testing your hearing from the comfort of your own home is sensible, practical, and convenient. However, is the added convenience worth it? There are a few things you should consider before taking hearing tests online.
Online hearing tests do not have a medical value. Only an audiologist can give expert advice on your hearing health and a proper diagnosis of hearing loss.
In this article, we will address your questions about online hearing tests and their accuracy.
Can You Do a Hearing Test Online?
You can do a hearing test online for the estimation of your hearing threshold. However, online hearing test results are not reliable. This is due to factors such as background noise and the quality of speakers or headphones.
Moreover, the tests that assess speech threshold, and the functioning of the middle ear and inner ear, cannot be administered online, thereby they do not provide crucial information to determine the type of hearing loss.
Are Online Hearing Tests Accurate?
Online hearing tests cannot accurately determine the extent of your hearing loss. While the estimation of a hearing threshold may be possible, the tests that assess speech discrimination ability, middle ear status, and inner ear functioning, cannot be administered online.
Audiologists carry out a variety of tests to determine the cause, type, and degree of your hearing loss. They check your middle ear and inner ear status, assess your health history, and calculate your speech discrimination ability to find out the extent and impact of your hearing loss.
Moreover, in-clinic audiology tests are conducted in sound-proof rooms for accurate measurement of hearing threshold.
In-clinic audiology tests are conducted in sound-proof rooms for accurate measurement of hearing threshold.
By now, it should be clear that online hearing tests provide very little information about your hearing health.
Although hearing tests online cannot provide an accurate diagnosis, there is no harm in trying an online test. To minimize the effect of background noise on the test results, take the test in a quiet room and use headphones instead of speakers.
However, keep in mind that if you suspect hearing loss, it is always better to consult a licensed audiologist for an accurate diagnosis of your hearing loss and an efficient treatment plan.
How Do Online Hearing Tests Work?
Online hearing tests typically take around 5 to 8 minutes. The test measures your hearing threshold – the sound level below which you are unable to detect any sound.
In most online hearing tests, sounds of varying loudness and frequencies will be presented. You will be asked to indicate whether you heard the tone by tapping on the screen.
The test may also involve the audio presentation of a list of words along with a set of pictures on the screen. When you hear a word, you will have to click on the corresponding picture.
Based on your responses, the test algorithm will calculate your hearing threshold and provide information on the severity of your hearing loss.
The downside to online hearing tests is that they cannot accurately analyze the overall hearing health, such as the status of the middle ear and inner ear, and one’s speech threshold. Therefore, online hearing testing cannot identify the type and cause of your hearing loss.
Online hearing testing cannot identify the type and cause of your hearing loss.
Limitations of Online Hearing Tests
Online hearing test results are not accurate due to factors like the influence of background noise and lack of appropriate tests.
Online tests that check your hearing include just one aspect of hearing exams: air conduction testing. This is the transmission of sound through the ear canal to the middle ear and then to the inner ear.
Below are a few crucial aspects of a hearing test that are not possible in online hearing tests.
- Before administering tests, the audiologist will collect information about your hearing health history to determine the cause and nature of your hearing loss. Furthermore, if you are experiencing ringing in the ears or balance problems, the audiologist will recommend ways to deal with them.
- The audiologist will examine your ears with an instrument called an otoscope to check for ear blockage or ear infection. This is a crucial part of hearing exams, as any obstruction in the ear canal can affect sound transmission which can lead to hearing loss.
- Rooms in which audiology tests are carried out have strict acceptable noise levels. This is to avoid the interference of background noise with the test results. Ambient noise levels can only be achieved through sound-treated rooms. The instruments used for testing are also calibrated to provide accurate results for a proper diagnosis.
- Other important tests in hearing exams are bone conduction testing and tympanometry (tests of the middle ear), which are done using specialised equipment. These two tests are imperative to determine the type and cause of hearing loss.
How Much Do Hearing Tests Cost?
A comprehensive hearing evaluation consists of 2-3 tests and each test is priced differently.
The average cost of an audiological evaluation is $60 after medical insurance coverage. However, if your health insurance does not cover office visits, a hearing test can cost as much as $250.
The cost of hearing tests can vary with the clinic, audiologist, and health insurance policies. It is best to check with your insurance provider before consulting an audiologist.
Ask your service provider whether the insurance policies cover hearing exams and if the coverage is applicable at all clinics or limited to a given network. If you suspect hearing loss and wish to purchase a hearing aid, check whether your medical insurance policies cover the cost of hearing aid fittings or tests.
The cost of hearing aids ranges from $1000 to $6000, depending on the hearing aid company, number of channels, and other features like Bluetooth and noise reduction.
Did you know that you can get a free hearing test at Costco if you’re a member?
How to Book a Hearing Test
To book a hearing test, go to the American Academy of Audiology website and click “Find an Audiologist.” Book an appointment with a licensed audiologist with a Doctorate degree of Audiology (AuD). You can also ask your general physician, family or friends to recommend an audiologist.
Online hearing tests cannot replace a visit to the audiologist. Tests that check the middle ear status, inner ear functioning, and brain activity, cannot be carried out online.
Hearing tests online miss out on crucial information about the type and cause of hearing loss. Consequently, proper treatment plans cannot be devised using online test results.
If you suspect hearing loss, it is advised to consult an audiologist for a full hearing check-up.