21 Dec 20220 Comments
There are a growing number of very good online and app-based hearing tests available that will let you check your hearing on your own.
These tests are a quick and convenient option for the millions of Americans who have mild to moderate hearing loss but often ignore it—or don’t want to go through the hassle or expense of visiting an audiologist for a hearing exam.
Who Should Test?
Hearing loss typically develops gradually over many years of wear and tear, which is the reason many people don’t realize they actually have a hearing problem.
It makes sense to test your hearing if: you have difficulty hearing or understanding what people say, especially in noisier environments or over the phone, or you need a higher volume of music or TV than other people.
Online and app-based hearing tests can serve as a great screening tool. They are not meant to be a diagnosis, but, rather, to give you an idea of how severe your hearing loss is and what can be done about it.
For most do-it-yourself hearing tests, you’ll be advised to wear ear headphones or earbuds and sit in a quiet place.
You also need to know there are two different types of tests available. One is known as pure-tone testing: when tones are played in decreasing volumes to determine your specific level of hearing loss. The other type, speech-in-noise or digits-in-noise (DIN), will ask you to identify words, numbers, or phrases amid background noise.
Which Test To Use
Two of my favorite app-based hearing tests, to be used on smartphones or tablets, are hearWHO—created by the World Health Organization—and the Mimi Hearing Test. Both apps are free to use and available through the App Store and Google Play.
HearWHO allows you to check your hearing status and monitor it over time, using a DIN test, whereas Mimi uses pure-tone and masked threshold tests to give you a detailed picture of your hearing abilities.
There is also a wide variety of online hearing tests you can take on a computer. Some top online tests—all offered by hearing aid manufacturers—for speech-in-noise or DIN tests, can be accessed at ReSound (resound.com/en-us/online-hearing-test) and Miracle Ear (miracle-ear.com/online-hearing-test).
And some good online hearing tests for pure-tone testing are available by Signia (signia.net/en/service/hearing-test); Ergo (eargo.com/hearing-health/hearing-check); and MD Hearing Aid (mdhearingaid.com/hearing-test).
All of these hearing tests are completely free to use and take less than five minutes to complete.
What to do with results
If the tests indicate you have hearing loss, it’s best to think of that as a starting point. Take the results to your doctor or an audiologist for further evaluation.
Many insurance providers and Medicare Advantage plans cover routine hearing exams; original Medicare does not.
If your hearing loss is mild to moderate, you may want to look in to the new over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, now available online and at retailers like Best Buy, Walgreens and CVS.
OTC hearing aids don’t require a prescription or medical examination for purchase and they’re much more affordable than the hearing aids you would traditionally have bought through an audiologist or a licensed hearing instrument specialist.