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Online hearing tests allow people to assess their hearing without needing to visit an audiologist or healthcare professional.

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There are a variety of websites where a person can test their hearing. This article looks at four hearing test websites, explains how they work, and highlights the pros and cons.

Online hearing tests tend to come in two different formats. One format is a quiz-based screening that asks a person about their hearing health and ability. The test may also ask questions about family history and tinnitus.

Another format of an online hearing test is more rigorous. Typically it works by asking a person to listen to an audio of words or numbers with different levels of background noise.

Sometimes, the test may speak a word, and a person has to select a photo or the text that best represents the word spoken.

Most of these online hearing tests state that they do not replace a physical examination with an audiologist and that people should still visit a medical professional to discuss their needs.

A person should never pay for their online hearing test. If a website asks for payment details, exit it immediately.

It is a good idea to look at the reviews for the online hearing test before completing the test or check with a healthcare professional to find out what website they would recommend.

Before starting the test:

  • sit in a quiet area
  • have the computer sound turned up to an appropriate and comfortable level
  • ensure there will be no interruptions or distractions
  • use headphones if available rather than the device speakers for best results

Below are some of the websites that offer online hearing tests.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

hearWHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) set up hearWHO. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

The WHO recommend that people at higher risk of hearing loss should get tested regularly. This includes:

  • people who listen to loud music
  • people who work in noisy environments
  • those who take medicines where hearing loss can be a side effect
  • people aged 60 and over

The aim of the hearWHO app is for users to take the test regularly and monitor their progress over time. The test takes the form of a digits-in-noise test, where a person needs to identify the numbers they hear in varying levels of background noise.

The app is currently only available in the English language.

Information about the hearWHO hearing test app can be found online.

Healthy Hearing

Healthy Hearing is one of the largest chains of hearing clinics in the United States.

They provide a short online hearing test in a quiz-style format. They ask questions about a person’s hearing and offer multiple choice answers.

Once a person has finished answering the questions, the website requests the participant’s name email address. This is so they can send the results and recommend a local hearing clinic to visit.

Healthy Hearing state that people should not use their online hearing test to replace a thorough diagnostic examination with a hearing professional.

The Healthy Hearing test can be found online.

ReSound

ReSound are a hearing aid manufacturer that also offer an online hearing test on their website.

They claim the test takes only 3 minutes to do. They give a person the option to complete the test with headphones or using their device speakers.

The ReSound online hearing tests work by playing different combinations of words and numbers in groups of three while simultaneously playing varying background noise levels. A person then needs to choose a corresponding icon to the words they think they have heard.

If a person conducts the test with headphones, ReSound will conduct a test on the right and left ears individually.

Again, ReSound state that their online hearing test does not replace a test conducted by an audiologist.

The ReSound hearing test can be found online.

Phonak

Phonak are another hearing aid manufacturer. They claim that their online hearing test takes only three minutes to complete.

The first section of the Phonak test plays numerous tones at varying frequencies. The second section of the test asks a person questions about their hearing ability.

When the test is complete, a person will receive their results via email and guidance on what to do next.

Phonak state that their online hearing test is not a replacement for in-depth testing with a healthcare professional.

The Phonak hearing test can be found online.

Some of the benefits of online hearing tests include:

  • convenience
  • free
  • saves time
  • may feel less intimidating

The authors of a 2013 study found that online hearing tests yield valid results. In the first part of the study they compared the online test with the audio metric screening and found that the online screening had 79% sensitivity (true positive) and 24% specificity (false positive). Then they tested it in real life. Of the people they recruited 1 in 5 needed a follow up test with a hearing professional.

There are also some drawbacks of online hearing tests. For example:

  • misinterpretation of results
  • no personalized advice from a healthcare professional
  • treatment and prescription are separate
  • tests rely on a good internet connection

The results of an online hearing test may recommend a person seek professional advice for a prescription. A person should also see a healthcare professional if they do not think their online hearing results are accurate.

Most online hearing tests do state that they do not replace visits to healthcare professionals. A person should still regularly get their hearing tested in-person.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommend a person consult a doctor if they have:

  • deformities of the ear that are visible
  • fluid, pus, or blood coming out of the ear
  • sudden or rapidly changing hearing loss
  • dizziness
  • a difference of hearing across both ears
  • excessive ear wax or feeling that something is in the ear
  • ear pain
  • tinnitus in one or both of the ears

A person can choose from various online hearing tests to get an idea of their level of hearing ability.

However, these online hearing tests do not replace a visit to a healthcare professional. A person must visit an audiologist or doctor for prescriptions and advice on what steps to take next.