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Online hearing tests allow people to assess their hearing without needing to visit an audiologist or another healthcare professional.
Online hearing tests tend to come in two different formats. One is a quiz-based screening that asks about hearing health and ability. It may also ask about family history and any symptoms of tinnitus.
The second type is more rigorous. Typically, it asks a person to listen to a recording of words or numbers with different levels of background noise. It may ask a person to listen to a word, then select a photo or bit of text that best represents that word.
Most of these online hearing tests acknowledge that they do not replace an examination from an audiologist and that it is important to discuss any hearing issues with a medical professional.
While online tests cannot replace a physical examination from a professional, they can indicate that a person may have some level of hearing loss.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service gives the following early signs of hearing loss:
- difficulty hearing or understanding what people say, especially in noisier environments
- needing a higher volume of music or TV than other people
- difficulty hearing or understanding people over the phone
- finding it tiring or stressful to concentrate on what people say
A person with any sign of hearing loss should make an appointment with an audiologist or another hearing care professional.
Never pay for an online hearing test. If a website asks for payment details, leave it right away.
It is a good idea to check reviews for online hearing tests before deciding on one. Also, a healthcare professional may be able to recommend one.
Before starting the test:
- Sit in a quiet area.
- Have the computer’s volume turned up to an appropriate, comfortable level.
- Ensure that there will be no interruptions or other distractions.
- Use headphones, if possible, for the best results.
Below are some websites that offer online hearing tests.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information is purely research-based.
The World Health Organization (WHO) set up this test, which is available through an app on the App Store and Google Play.
The WHO recommends that people with a higher risk of hearing loss get tested regularly. This includes people who:
- listen to loud music
- work in noisy environments
- take medicines that can cause hearing loss as a side effect
- are aged 60 or over
The aim of hearWHO is for users to take the test regularly and monitor their progress over time. A person needs to identify the numbers that they hear with varying levels of background noise.
The app is currently only available in English.
Healthy Hearing is one of the largest chains of hearing clinics in the United States.
It provides a short online hearing test in a quiz-style format. A person answers questions about their hearing using the multiple choices provided.
Then, the website requests the person’s name and email address, so it can send the results and recommend a local hearing clinic to visit.
Healthy Hearing acknowledges that their online test is no replacement for a thorough diagnostic examination from a professional.
ReSound is a hearing aid manufacturer that also offers an online hearing test.
The company says that its test takes only 3 minutes, and a person can use headphones or their device’s speakers.
The ReSound test asks a person to identify different combinations of words and numbers among varying levels of background noise. If a person is using headphones, the company tests the right and left ears individually.
The company acknowledges that its online test cannot replace one conducted by an audiologist.
Phonak is another hearing aid manufacturer. It says that its test takes 3 minutes to complete.
The first section plays numerous tones at varying frequencies. The second section asks a person questions about their hearing ability. When the test is complete, the company sends the results via email, as well as guidance about what to do next.
Phonak acknowledges that its test is not a replacement for an examination from a healthcare professional.
MDHearingAid is a hearing aid manufacturer that offers a free hearing test. The company says that its test is the easiest available and that it gives instant results.
This hearing test should take about 8 minutes to complete, and MDHearingAid designed it for use with earphones. Before beginning, a person has to create a profile.
The company acknowledges that its test cannot replace one conducted by a healthcare professional.
Eargo is another hearing aid manufacturer that provides a free hearing test on its website.
First, a person has to sign up on Eargo’s website. The test assesses how well people can hear different speech tones and also asks about a person’s lifestyle and how their hearing affects it.
The company says that the results may indicate whether an Eargo hearing aid is right for the test-taker.
Miracle-Ear is a hearing aid manufacturer that offers a free hearing test online.
The company recommends that people use earphones for the test, which takes 5 minutes and has six questions. It plays six clips of everyday scenarios, such as a person asking for directions in the street, and the test-taker selects what they heard out of four options.
At the end, a person receives a score out of 10 and a recommendation about what to do next.
Miracle-Ear acknowledges that its online test is no replacement for a test from a hearing care professional. The company does offer in-store, professional hearing tone tests.
Widex is another hearing aid manufacturer that also provides a free hearing test.
The company says that its test pinpoints hearing challenges and provides recommendations based on the results. The test takes 5 minutes and is currently only available for people over 18 years of age.
Widex recommends taking the test in a quiet area, with good quality, over-ear headphones. First, the test asks about hearing challenges, such as difficulty understanding conversations over the phone. Then, it plays a series of tone frequencies.
The company acknowledges that its test is not a replacement for one conducted by a healthcare professional.
A person may prefer an online test because it:
- is convenient
- is free
- may save time
- may feel less intimidating than an in-person test
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There are also some drawbacks, however. For example:
- The test or the person may misinterpret the results.
- There is no personalized advice from a healthcare professional.
- A person likely needs to take a professional test before they can receive treatment.
- The test relies on having a good internet connection.
The results of an online hearing test may indicate that a person should receive professional attention. It is also important to receive professional care if the results of an online test do not seem accurate.
Most online hearing tests acknowledge that they cannot replace a visit to an audiologist. It is still a good idea to have regular, in-person hearing tests.
- any visible irregularities in the shape of one or both ears
- fluid, pus, or blood coming from an ear
- sudden or rapidly changing hearing loss
- better hearing in one ear than the other
- excessive ear wax or a feeling that something is in the ear
- ear pain
- tinnitus, which usually causes a ringing or buzzing, in one or both ears
Various online tests can assess a person’s hearing. They may only take 3–8 minutes to complete.
However, these tests do not replace a visit to a healthcare professional. And after getting the results, it may be a good idea to visit an audiologist for advice about what to do next.