Thursday November 30, 2023
Free Online Hearing Tests
Online and app-based hearing tests are available to allow individuals to check their hearing. These tests are a quick and convenient option for the millions of Americans that have mild to moderate hearing loss but often ignore it. While the best option is to visit an audiologist for a hearing exam, many individuals may be hesitant.
Who Should Test?
For most people, hearing loss develops gradually over many years, which is the reason many people do not realize they have a hearing problem.
Anyone who has difficulty hearing or understanding what people say, especially in noisier environments or over the phone should get tested. Additionally, those who need a higher volume of music or TV compared to others should take a few minutes to test their hearing.
Online and app-based hearing tests can serve as an at home screening tool. They are not meant to be a diagnosis, but rather to give a rough idea if hearing loss exists. For most do-it-yourself hearing tests, wearing headphones or earbuds and sitting in a quiet spot is recommended.
There are two different types of at-home hearing tests available. The first is known as pure-tone testing, where tones are played in decreasing volumes to determine your specific level of hearing loss. The second type is known as speech-in-noise or digits-in-noise (DIN), which requires the individual to identify words, numbers, or phrases amid background noise.
Where to Test
For those who use a smartphone or tablet, your app store may provide options for at-home screening. The World Health Organization has its HearWHO app available and is based on validated digits-in-noise technology.
HearWHO allows users to check their hearing status and monitor it over time using a DIN test. Other apps may use pure-tone and masked threshold tests to give you a detailed picture of your hearing abilities. Look for the free HearWHO app or others available through your app store for your smartphone or tablet.
You can also search for a wide variety of online hearing tests using your preferred search engine. Many of the online hearing tests are completely free to use and take less than five minutes to complete.
What to do with Results
If the tests indicate hearing loss, it is best to think of that as a starting point. Results should be taken to your primary healthcare professional or an audiologist for further evaluation. Many insurance providers and Medicare Advantage plans cover routine hearing exams, however original Medicare does not.
If hearing loss is mild to moderate, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids can be a great solution. They can be found online and at popular retail stores near you. OTC hearing aids do not require a prescription or medical examination for purchase and are more affordable than the traditional hearing aids purchased through an audiologist or a licensed hearing instrument specialist, but are often less effective.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.