Hearing Loss Solutions: Navigating Free Online Hearing Tests

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Hearing loss is a fairly common condition and can affect people of all ages. Generally, hearing loss affects older folks, and is called presbycusis. Nearly 1/3 of all adults over the age of 65 suffer from hearing challenges, many of whom require hearing aids and other management options for overall well-being.

Failing to identify or treat hearing loss can spell trouble for the future. Poor hearing health can have a serious impact on quality of life, and has been known to cause feelings of depression and isolation from their loved ones. Hearing loss may also have an impact on a person’s ability to work and function normally.

Experts even suggest that hearing loss may be in some way linked to cognitive decline, as mild hearing loss has been known to increase the risk of age-related conditions like dementia. The normal functioning of the brain is affected, which makes it harder to understand and process speech, leading to even further decline and isolation.

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A hearing test is the first step in identifying if there’s a hearing problem and the extent of the issue. As simple as that may sound, getting a hearing test is a hurdle for many. Roadblocks can come in the form of financial limitations, one’s location, or even having enough time to visit a hearing care professional.

Online Hearing Tests

With the alternative being untreated hearing loss, online hearing tests allow patients to assess their hearing abilities at home, without the need to see a hearing care professional. Oftentimes, there’s also an intimidation factor that comes with even setting an appointment to consult a professional hearing test.

A free online hearing test in the comfort and privacy of one’s home is a lot more convenient and a lot less intimidating. Online tests serve as a great tool for at-home monitoring of hearing health and can help the individual gain confidence to visit a professional. Headphones, a stable internet connection, and a quiet background are all that’s needed.

We can’t understate the importance of seeking professional help if any issues are highlighted in the online hearing test results. Taking an online hearing test is just one step, and overall ear health must be taken seriously. Medical staff are trained to help patients address their anxiety and address any issues regarding hearing care visits.

Over the ear headphones used for a hearing test

Finding an online hearing test isn’t difficult, and a quick Google search should provide several results. We’ve identified some of the most accurate online hearing tests, and how they can be useful. Complete your online hearing test with a pair of headphones and a quiet place with no background noise:

Hearingyou.org

Hearingyou is a free online resource for all things hearing health. It offers a free hearing test along with information about the impacts of hearing loss, prevention, and potential rehabilitation.

This online hearing test evaluates your hearing abilities using various tones and frequencies. This five-minute online hearing test requires headphones, or earphones, and measures your ability to hear different pitches and volumes. This is considered an effective initial assessment of one’s hearing sensitivity.

National Hearing Test

The National Hearing Test is a clinically validated online screening tool designed to assess hearing loss. It takes about 10 minutes to complete and only requires a phone. This hearing test is free with AARP membership ($8 non-member fee). Users of this online hearing test are expected to listen to three-digit audio prompts and respond using their keypads.

This online hearing test uses your previous answer to adjust its volume, getting harder with right answers, and easier with wrong ones. These online hearing test results can be used to detect potential hearing loss or identify a problem ear.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA is a “national professional, scientific, and credentialing association” for hearing care professionals, and is a resource students and professionals refer to for accurate and free information. It can also be used to point the general public in the direction of a qualified hearing care professional.

ASHA’s online hearing test doesn’t require headphones and can be completed in less than five minutes. It involves a series of short questions, which, if applicable, may indicate potential hearing loss in children and adults.

Better Hearing Institute

The Better Hearing Institute is a non-profit that offers free online hearing tests and other resources to the public to increase hearing health awareness and reduce their impacts on society. They also provide information on what to expect during your hearing test appointment.

Action Hearing Loss (Formerly RNID)

Formerly RNID, Action Hearing Loss, is the largest charity for hearing loss in the UK, offering valuable resources and solutions for hearing loss. Their online hearing test has proven accurate and involves listening to a series of phrases and tones to assess individual hearing capabilities. All you need is a quiet environment, a pair of headphones, and a few minutes to spare.

Hearing Tests from Manufacturers of Hearing Aids

Several reputable hearing aid manufacturers offer free online hearing tests to determine if you need hearing aids. Some of the most popular hearing aid manufacturers include:

  1. Beltone
  2. Starkey
  3. Signia
  4. Phonak
  5. Widex
  6. Oticon
  7. ReSound
  8. Miracle-Ear

 Free Hearing Test Apps

Person typing on their laptop

If you’re not near a PC or laptop, you can download a hearing test app to check your ears. Headphones and no-noise are the only requirements, and many of these online hearing tests produce audiograms you can bring to your professional hearing care specialist.

Some of the top hearing test apps include:

Mimi Hearing Test

Free to download on iOS and Android, the Mimi Hearing Test is an app that tests each ear to determine hearing loss using various frequencies and volume levels. The Mimi hearing test takes around six minutes to complete and can be used to track hearing loss over time. Mimi can even share these results with your hearing professional!

Hearing Test and Ear Age Test

The Hearing Test & Ear Age Test was designed specially for use on an iPad. Headphones or earphones are required, as the app makes an assessment of your hearing health by playing different tones of frequencies between 125Hz to 8,=000Hz. It even plots them on a graph, and allows you to track the progress of your hearing loss.

This online hearing test even offers a unique “ear age test” that starts with low frequency sounds, and increases to high frequencies until the sound is no longer audible.

Hear Me: Hearing Test

The Hear Me: Hearing Test uses eight tones of different frequencies to measure the user’s hearing sensitivity. This is a good indicator of hearing health. The Hear Me: Hearing test app also provides a full audiogram and can generate reports to track hearing loss.

uHear Hearing Test by Unitron

Unitron is a Canadian manufacturer of hearing aids and a world leader in solutions for hearing loss. Their app, uHear, provides a tonal hearing test, along with a questionnaire to assess the user’s hearing ability in everyday situations. It even includes a Speech in Noise test to identify difficulty understanding words.

Are Online Hearing Tests Accurate?

Man shrugging his shoulders

Online hearing tests are easy to use and can provide almost instantaneous hearing assessments. However, it’s important to note that online hearing tests are never intended to be complete replacements for in-person hearing tests (known as audiograms). With this in mind, let’s explore the pros and cons of these online hearing tests:

Pros

  1. Convenience: A free hearing test can be taken from the comfort of your home at any time, which means there’s no need to visit a clinic or schedule an appointment right away. They’re also pretty quick, and don’t require taking time off to get one’s hearing checked.
  2. Accessibility: Access to basic hearing assessments can change attitudes towards hearing loss, and allow more people to overcome the challenges it poses. An online hearing test is available to anyone with access to the internet.
  3. Initial Screening: Failing an online hearing test is usually a sign of trouble. An online test can point someone in the right direction, and help manage hearing loss.
  4. Cost-effective: Since most of these hearing tests are free, people with financial limitations can get online hearing test results without spending a dollar.

Cons

  1. Accuracy Limitations: Online test results aren’t used in an official setting, and may not be as accurate as assessments from a hearing professional using specialized equipment.
  2. Limited Scope: Hearing loss is complicated, and an online hearing test may not cover the full range of hearing issues or provide comprehensive results. An online hearing test can’t identify the type or degree of hearing loss.
  3. Technical Limitations: Online hearing test results are affected by the quality of the user’s speakers or headphones, as well as background noise. Only a professional hearing care specialist can produce accurate hearing test results.
  4. Lack of Personalization: While an online hearing test can provide some sort of indication of hearing loss, they don’t offer personalized advice or treatment tailored to your specific hearing needs.

What’s Next?

While an online hearing test can prove beneficial, they are merely a self-assessment tool and should never replace professional advice. An online hearing test can indicate potential issues, but if you are already experiencing hearing loss or notice an impact on your quality of life, it is important to schedule an in-person test to get your hearing checked. Only a qualified hearing care professional can provide a thorough assessment and appropriate guidance.

Managing hearing loss can come in the form of wearing hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive listening devices. Patients with hearing loss often adapt techniques like reading lips to figure out words, using closed captioning, or simply avoiding environments that make it hard to hear.

The psychological effects of hearing loss can be just as devastating on one’s life as the hearing loss itself. Patients with hearing loss sometimes undergo talk therapy to help them cope and overcome their feelings. Managing hearing loss is often a combination of what works for each patient, and is possible with help from a professional hearing care specialist.

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