Are online hearing tests accurate? I am thinking about buying online and not sure whether I can trust the test.

Kelley Olenick, AuD

Audiodlogist

13 March 2019 - 466 Views

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.

Upvote (3) Downvote Reply

Jasmin Auzenne, AuD

Doctor of Audiology: Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 499 Views

Unfortunately, I would not recommend that an online hearing test be used to fit hearing aids purchased online for several reasons:

  1. The accuracy of the test will likely not be very high
  2. Hearing aids programmed to inaccurate testing could lead to hearing damage if testing showed more hearing loss than actually present
  3. Hearing aids programmed to inaccurate testing could lead to poor results and underperformance if testing showed less hearing loss than actually present

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.

Upvote (2) Downvote Reply

Dr. Elly Pourasef, AuD

Hearing Healthcare Provider / Audiologist

14 March 2019 - 421 Views

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

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

13 March 2019 - 433 Views

Do not trust an online test.  If you are going to invest in hearing aids, invest in yourself by having your hearing evaluated by an Audiologist.  You cannot check for wax with an online test or know if there is a medical condition that requires treatment. The accuracy of a test relies upon the accuracy of the equipment and proper calibration.  My second piece of advice is to have real ear measurements completed when you are fit with the devices to assure that you are getting the correct benefit.  
Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

PATRICE ROGSTAD

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 457 Views

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.

  1. Online hearing test equipment is NOT calibrated so the test results can vary!
  2. If you do not do the hearing test(screening) correctly, the online company will set your devices to the incorrect test, making it extremely unlikely that the aids will be programmed correctly.
  3. There is no way of knowing from an online hearing "screening" if you need to be referred  to and Ear, Nose & Throat doctor to see if their is something medically or surgically that needs to be addressed before proceeding with hearing aids. 

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.  

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Michael & Ryan Hill, AuD

Doctor of Audiology

13 March 2019 - 486 Views

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. 

Upvote (1) Downvote Reply

Ellen Nathan

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 441 Views

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.  

Upvote Downvote Reply

Edward Deneau

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 446 Views

 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

Upvote Downvote Reply

Danny L Ahrens

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 468 Views

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.

Upvote Downvote Reply

John Dennis, AAS

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 468 Views

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  
Upvote Downvote Reply

Paul Dietsch

Professional Member

13 March 2019 - 472 Views

On line tests are a little better than the old whisper test given to soldiers when entering or leaving the service. The things that are missing are important. A proper test should include frequencies from 125 to 20,000. Tolerances should be measured as well. There should be speech discrimination testing and auditory processing evaluation testing. The fitting of the hearing aids should include RealEar testing as well as comfort evaluation. Testing for tumors and infections can't be done online.  You could call the online testing a screening but don't think that the information is enough to determine your needs. You can only get what you need from a professional. I was in private practice for over 46 years and like Farmers insurance, I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two.
Upvote Downvote Reply

Amy Swain, AuD

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 480 Views

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.

Upvote Downvote Reply

Lily Hughes

Professional Member

13 March 2019 - 482 Views

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! 

Upvote Downvote Reply

Sean Mark

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 486 Views

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. 

Upvote Downvote Reply

Charles Darby PhD, MA, BC-HIS, BC-HIS

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 486 Views

Absolutely NOT!!!  At best, an online test can only check hearing for air tones and even then is subject to question.  A quality test must be done in conditions conducive to accurate testing and can't be limited to just test air tones.  There are many additional tests required to properly diagnose and fit aids for differing losses, tinnitus, and speech discrimination.  The equipment used, by law, must be calibrated and used only by trained and knowledgeable technicians.  The real travesty in online testing is the avoidance of diagnosing certain ear/brain maladies that could not only impact hearing and understanding but more invasive and possibly life threatening issues.  Any company that tells you proper diagnostics and treatment can be determined by an online test should be reported immediately!   They are not looking at your needs for best healthcare and could put you at risk for potentially more threatening future health issues.  Would you use an online EKG to buy a pacemaker?  Of course not!  So when dealing with your ears and brain, why even consider cutting corners with inaccurate, partial testing?      
Upvote Downvote Reply

aaron west

Hearing Healthcare Provider

13 March 2019 - 496 Views

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.

Upvote Downvote Reply

Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist in Boone

14 March 2019 - 412 Views

Online test is not accurate due to the environment that you are taking the test in. Also equipment is not regulated or inspected for accuracy. Our testing equipment in the office is checked and maintained yearly to insure that we are getting the best test results as possible. Online testing can provide an indication that there may be possible hearing loss but follow up with a hearing specialist to have your hearing tested in a controled environment. 
Upvote Downvote (1) Reply

Ben Babson

Professional Member

14 March 2019 - 416 Views

Well On line is best for screening of self , but the Best way to assess your hearing is getting to an Audiologist to perform it for you. Thanks

Ben Babson 

Upvote Downvote (1) Reply

Naseema Kader

Professional Member

14 March 2019 - 417 Views

Online hearing tests can be classed as a screenig tool.  They cannot repalce a consultation where a few tests are conducted in order to establish a proper diagnosis or indication of the cause of the hearing difficulty which may be an infection or wax related. Proper recommendatinos must be done and there are a number of factors that need to be counselled on.  Many people have unrealistic expectations and that is why there is rejection of hearing aids. There is research available where the term "brain hearing" has been coined. This very broadly means that the adaptation of the brain from not hearing normally to hearing with an assitive device is a process.  This involves the practioner having to adjust and readjust settings.  In most cases the person would require custom fittings which aslo requires impression taking.  The family  must also be fully involved in the process so that maximum benefit can be obatined.  Hearing aids now have good technology and are able to connect to smart devices etc.  Online purchasing is more suited for everyday items we have been exposed to and are fully aware of how they function and how to use them.
Upvote Downvote (1) Reply

Discussion

Joshua B
Joshua B 13 March 2019

I have to agree with Dr. Auzenne.  In addition to her comments, the equipment used by hearing care professionals must be calibrated at least annually to maintain accuracy.  There is no way to know if the commercial sound system used at home is calibrated or if your environment is appropriate for hearing testing.  Save the headache and have this done professionally.  

Linked below are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for the calibration of the audiometer.  

https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.95AppE

Rachel B
Rachel B 13 March 2019

Online hearing checks should be viewed as screening tools to determine if you need an actual hearing examination. Where ever you purchase amplification, be sure to have an accurate test conducted first by an audiologist. 

Regardless of where or how you purchase hearing aids, you should ask what type of follow up care and services you will be provided and if you will pay separately for those services. Ask how the volume that will be put into your ears is checked or verified to ensure it is a good match to the prescription for your hearing loss. If you are not receiving follow up services and there is no verification of the output of the hearing aids with real ear measures, my opinion is you will do just as well with any $50 amplifier as you would with what they are selling. 

Add a response

Related Questions

This Website Does Not Provide Medical Advice. All material on this Website is provided for informational purposes only. Inclusion of information on this site does not imply any medical advice, recommendation or warranty. Answers provided should not be considered a substitute for the advice of health professionals who are familiar with your specific medical history. Experts who provide advice via "Expert Answers" assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of, nor any liability to update, the information provided. Expert answers and comments may be removed at any time, at the discretion of the moderators, without notice.