Worried about your hearing? You might have seen that some websites are now offering online hearing tests to check whether you have any problems. Unfortunately, these hearing tests don’t work, and we cannot recommend them. Here’s why:
How Do Online Hearing Tests Work?
Online hearing tests are simple. You’ll hear a series of tones to each ear to check which frequencies you can hear and at what volume you can hear them.
Some tests personalise your results by asking personal questions about you. For example, knowing how old you are will help a test decide if it thinks reduced hearing at some frequencies is a natural problem caused by aging, or something else.
These questions help the test personalise your results and aim to increase both the accuracy and the relevance of the advice you receive. Unfortunately, as we’ll see in the next section, this is not enough to make taking an online test worthwhile.
4 Reasons Why You Should Skip An Online Test And Visit An Audiologist
Online hearing tests are getting more sophisticated, but several unavoidable shortcomings mean you are always better off visiting an expert. At worst, these online tests may mask a problem with your hearing and delay your diagnosis and treatment.
1. Online Tests Only Measure One Aspect Of Your Hearing
Online hearing tests are relatively unsophisticated, measuring just one aspect of your hearing. Is the problem in your ear canal? Or the auditory nerve? Or is it just a build-up of wax? It’s impossible to tell without in-person testing.
Additionally, an online test cannot spot physical symptoms in the ear which may develop to cause a problem if left untreated. An audiologist can spot these warning signs, but they may not reduce your hearing enough for an online hearing test to find a problem.
2. An Online Test Can’t Provide a Diagnosis or Treatment
Even if an online test identifies a potential problem, it cannot provide a diagnosis, find the cause of the problem, or assess your treatment options with you. There’s no solution at all, which means you’re going to need to see an audiologist to receive treatment.
3. Sound Crossover May Hide a Hearing Problem
Audiologists use sophisticated equipment to check your hearing; your personal headphones are unlikely to meet the same standards. One common problem is that crossover while using headphones means you hear a sound with your ear not being tested – this might lead to a pass on an online test even if you have a problem with one ear.
4. Online Tests Can’t Provide Proof of Hearing
You don’t just need a hearing test when you have a problem; you may need to check your hearing to prove that you are suitable for a particular job or activity. For example, many pilot licenses and commercial driving licenses specify certain standards of hearing. An online hearing test is not sufficient to provide proof in these situations.
What Does an Audiologist Do That an Online Test Doesn’t?
When you visit an audiologist, you’ll receive a far more comprehensive hearing test than you would online. Not only does an audiologist have advanced training, but they also have access to specialist equipment.
For example, they can provide the correct conditions for an accurate test to establish a baseline measurement of your hearing – the amount of background noise in the average home makes this impossible to do accurately.
The audiologist will:
- Consider your medical history and any current conditions.
- Physically examine your ears using an otoscope.
- Go beyond hearing – an audiologist can help diagnose the cause of frequent ear infections, address balance issues, and inspect earwax build-up for problems.
- Provide precise diagnosis and treatment.
When Should You Book In With An Audiologist?
You should book an appointment if you or your friends or family have noticed an issue with your hearing. Common issues include regularly speaking too loudly, having to turn up the volume on the radio or television higher than before, and having problems concentrating on voices in a noisy room.
Concerned about your hearing? Book an appointment online today.