Online hearing screenings, specifically the question and answer format, may be helpful in determining if you are at risk for hearing loss. Questions such as "Do you listen to the TV at louder levels than others in the same room would prefer?" , may provide you with information about the likelihood of hearing loss. Actual online hearing tests however, are not calibrated with your headphones and/or speaker system. For this reason the accuracy is questionable. When it comes to your healthcare, see a professional to receive an accurate diagnosis.
Unfortunately, I would not recommend that an online hearing test be used to fit hearing aids purchased online for several reasons:
I would highly recommend finding a local audiologist (doctor of audiology) to accurately test your hearing and recommend a treatment option that is specific to your hearing needs. Having a local audiologist will allow for easier follow up care and programming adjustments as hearing aids are not typically a "one and done" type of fitting. Being treated with hearing aids typically involves an adjustment to new sound, counseling, and several programming adjustments. Also, hearing treatment devices will require regular cleaning and performance checks about every 3 to 6 months.
This is my professional opinion. I hope that you are able to find a wonderful local doctor of audiology to care for your hearing needs.
I don't know how nicest to say "NOOOOO" to this question! But not for the reason you think. Of course an online test could be somewhat helpful, but at the same time, it is just a screening tool - NOT diagnostic. I could sit here and list at least 2 dozen reason why not to do that, but I'll keep it simple. More important that the "exam" that should not be done online, is the actually purchasing of the hearing aids. When you see a real provider and get real hearing aids through them, you are not just buying an item- you are buying EVERYTHING- their expertise, their time, their programming skills, their knowledge base, their compassion, and on and on and on. This is not a TV or a computer- these are tools to help you navigate through life with better hearing, and THE biggest part of this equation is the HUMAN being that will guide you through it, not just the device. When your aids stop working and they need to be sent for repair and you get used to them and will be without amplification until they are back, your human that you entrusted will give you loaners to get you by. When you lose your aids because you didn't want to get them wet and forgot where you put them, your human will help put in a claim for you and reprogram them for you. When you go to your family member's important function and don't hear as well as you want, you can call your human and have them adjust it to where it sounds better. When your hearing drops again in 1-2 years, your human will re-program them for you accordingly. I can't stress enough how important we are in our patient's lives and that I get tears and hugs on a daily basis-- not because they bought a PRODUCT, they got me and everything that I have in me to make their lives better. @doctorelly
Three reasons why you should have a hearing test from a Hearing Care Professional done in the office rather than an online hearing "screening" even if you are buying hearing aids online.
If you are going to buy hearing aids online, be upfront with the Hearing Care Professional and be prepared to pay for the testing fees.
While an online hearing test can be somewhat accurate, the computer based test cannot accurately diagnose what type of hearing loss you may have. It will also not rule out any other existing pathologies that may be the cause of your hearing loss. It is always recommended to see an audiologist to properly diagnose type and degree of hearing loss and to rule out any other issues you may be having. If you have already been tested by an audiologist and you are a candidate for a hearing aid without other interventions, an online test will most likely not be completely accurate due to its inability to calibrate to whatever you're listening to the test stimulus with (headphones, computer speakers, etc.). So again it is best to go get a hearing test from a licensed professional with calibrated equipment to get a fully accurate graph of your hearing. Once you have your accurate test, you can buy a hearing aid from wherever you like. Be cautioned that buying online hearing aids and having them "pre-fit" according to your hearing test will not get you the most out of your devices. The hearing aids may not fit physically the way you want or need them to, and they will most likely not be programmed exactly for your needs without the use of Real-Ear-Measures. This is a very important step in hearing aid programming, and without going somewhere to have your aids programmed with real ear measures, what's actually happening in your ear is just guess work. Most hearing aids can get close, but they are rarely tuned for your exact needs.
Long story short, have your hearing tested by a professional if you haven't already, and get programmed using real ear. Buy your hearing aids wherever you like, just make sure you don't buy used aids from eBay or someone else's custom hearing aids.
The short answer is no. Online tests are inaccurate and are useless for programming of hearing aids. To properly perform an audiogram, you need calibrated equipment. An online test can be used to maybe see if you need a real test... but the problem is that no one has checked inside the ear for obstructions and phones vary in the quality of speakers and loudness.
That said, be very careful of purchasing hearing aids online. There are several manufacturers that will not honor the warranty if purchased online, and if they were registered to another person the warranty is void for all manufacturers. I have had several patients bring in hearing aids purchased online, and a few were loss and damage claimed, meaning that the person claimed loss of the device and then probably found it and resold it. The problem is that if it is ever sent in to the manufacturer again it will be confiscated. I promptly told the patient to return it to the seller (via ebay) and took a screenshot of the voided warranty (it was a Unitron aid, with a right receiver, the other had a left, both registered as left in the software and that could not be overwritten) I called and found out from the manufacturer that it was from a loss and damage claim.
I would not recommend that an online hearing test be used to fit hearing aids purchased online for several reasons:
The accuracy of the test will likely not be very high
If the sound devices ie: "headphones" are not calibrated correctly, or the sound levels are not calibrated, the the test results will give a general idea where the loss is found, but air conduction alone is not enough to know if there are any underlying issues such as found in conductive losses which can be generally medically corrected. Hearing loss testing left to self induced methods usually ends in less than desirable results because trying not to cheat your test is difficult, it's highly subjective and we tend to cheat on our own test thus negating the quality of need detected, we may measure higher than is necessary or lower according to our answers.
Medical issues are left undiscovered
Hearing aid selection will be based on costs usually
Knowing what the devices does in any situation is left to marketers
Having difficulties in noise with hearing aids leaves a person to just form an opinion...Hearing aids....they are all the same, the lesser cost the less effective they perform due to loss of functionality ( features are removed to reduce costs) and yet just amplify sounds.
HIS ( Hearing Instrument Specialists ) and audiologists are trained to know why the devices do what they do in specific enviroments therefore can help talk you through difficult decisions that will provide what your looking to do in regards to the loss discovered
Online hearing tests will give you a general idea of your hearing loss, but cannot be as accurate as in office calibrated equipment.
A hearing professional can use their experience to help you understand your loss and what can be done to improve your loss,
one-on-one, something that cannot be done online. Hearing aids online sometimes are little more than amplifiers. Even if they
are for real digital hearing aids when you team potentially inaccurate information with what is usually a low cost product you
can expect the end result to be less than desirable. If you have a mild loss, and are satisfied with mediocre results, then maybe
this approach is okay for you.
Although convenient, online hearing tests do not have near the accuracy of a hearing test with a calibrated audiometer in a controlled environment. As hearing healthcare professionals it is our responsibility to provide accurate hearing tests rather than just a quick way to sell you a hearing aid online. If you live in the Pensacola, FL area be sure to check our hearing aid center out www.hear4uflorida.com or call (850) 536-8780.- John
I agree with all of these opinions from the other audiologists. The chance for error is greater, all of the necessary testing is not possible to be done online, and you might just be plugged with wax. Worse, you could have a tumor and not know it.
Consumers also need to be aware that many online hearing aid services are not to be trusted. For example, look at reviews on the Better Business Bureau website and not just Google Reviews. Many consumers have trouble getting their money back when they order online.
You also get what you pay for and this is not going to be service here. You are getting just the product. Many audiologists can sell you a hearing aid for less money but it is the services they provide that are necessary to be happy with hearing aids.
I completely agree with what Drs. Auzenne, Hill & Hill have stated. The number one point I try to make with all my patients is that you want a DIAGNOSIS. What is the type, degree, and configuration of your hearing loss? Are you even a hearing aid candidate, or are there other options like bone-anchored implants, surgical intervention, or simply medicine that will treat your hearing loss? Only Audiologists (sometimes along with Ear, Nose, Throat physicians) can determine this. Think of it this way...does an optician (same level of this computer assessment or hearing aid dispenser) determine what glasses you need? Nope! You need a diagnosis and prescription from a medical professionbal in order for them to order the correct lenses!
Online hearing tests are not accurate. They may, however, be used as a tool to find out if your hearing is falling below normal thresholds. Hearing specialists are trained to use specialized equipment that is calibrated annually, as required by law, for accuracy. A hearing test that is completed with a calibrated audiometer will allow the specialist to accurately program each frequency gain and frequency compression to the correct decibel level needed to match the hearing test results. Otherwise, a wearer will hear some frequencies (tones) too loud and others too soft.
Bone testing is the most important part of a hearing test battery. Bone testing can only be performed by a professional using professional equipment. Bone testing uncovers red flag ear diseases, such as a brain tumor, that may present itself as a hearing loss to the patient. In this case, a specialist would be able identify the air/bone gap. Instead of fitting the patient with hearing aids, which would mask the actual source of the hearing loss, the specialist could immediately refer the patient to the proper physician for further diagnosis.
They're only accurate enough to determine if you need further testing from a Hearing Healthcare Professional. You can't do any speech testing or bone conduction testing online. You also need a professional to do an otoscope exam (look in your ears) to make sure your not plugged up and the eardrum and canal are healthy.
You might save money short term buying online but you are opening yourself up to health risks and future service issues which will cost more money in the long run.
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