Online Hearing Tests vs. Professional Audiological Assessments
Hearing tests are vital to our health and wellbeing and are important for many reasons. Hearing tests can detect hearing loss in its early stages. Promptly addressing hearing loss can improve an individual’s quality of life. Our hearing is fundamental to our ability to communicate with those around us. When hearing loss goes undetected and hence untreated, this can cause communication difficulties, misunderstandings, and social isolation. Hearing tests can also detect any noise induced hearing loss. Information on how to protect and preserve our hearing, especially for individuals working in noisy environments, can then be provided. Regular hearing checks can ensure hearing loss does not go undetected. However, there are a few different ways to do this. You may have seen online hearing tests pop up on websites whilst you have been browsing the internet. These online hearing tests can be a great screening tool, but should they replace comprehensive hearing tests completed by professional audiologists?
Online Hearing Tests
Online hearing checks are often quick and simple, just like our online hearing test. These online checks often test a few pitches or frequencies in each ear to see if you fall outside of the normal range. Online hearing tests are often completely free and can be completed in the comfort of your own home, meaning they can be convenient to complete. They are also discrete, so if you or a loved one is nervous or unsure about seeking professional advice just yet, online hearing tests may be a private way to start.
However, it is important to keep in mind that there is limited accuracy in online hearing tests. These online checks can provide an estimate about your hearing ability, but they do not detect specific hearing concerns. Online hearing tests also cannot determine the underlying cause of a hearing loss, for example, an online hearing check could not tell you if an ear infection was present or if ear wax was blocking your ear canal.
Additionally, online hearing tests only check your ability to hear a ‘beep’ and do not include all the additional ear and hearing checks of a diagnostic test, such as speech and word recognition ability.
Professional Audiological Assessments
When you visit an audiologist, they offer a far more comprehensive assessment of your hearing status compared to an online hearing test. Audiologists are university trained and qualified professionals who assess your hearing and diagnose any type and degree of hearing loss. When a hearing test is completed in-person, the correct conditions for accuracy will be in place. This means all the equipment is correctly calibrated and the environment is measured and controlled. The hearing test will be completed in a sound-treated room or soundproof booth and the background noise kept to a certain approved level.
Audiologists begin comprehensive hearing assessments with an in-depth case history to understand your medical history and hearing health. The audiologist will then physically examine your ears using a light called an otoscope to ensure your ear canals are clear and your eardrums appear healthy. The hearing care professional then assesses your middle ear system using equipment called a tympanometer to rule out pathologies such as a middle ear infection. Following this, the audiologist completes a test called pure tone audiometry to diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss, or to see if your hearing is within the normal range. This can also include looking assessing your functional hearing through tests using words and sentences with and without background noise.
Additionally, in an in-person professional hearing test, the audiologist can explain your next steps after the hearing test. For some, this may be hearing treatment such as hearing devices. For others, this can be providing referrals on to other specialists such as your GP or an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. This can help to effectively diagnose and treat any hearing concerns that you may have immediately, rather than receiving incomplete information from an online hearing check.
Online hearing tests can be a great screening tool to check if you have any hearing concerns. Although, these online checks should never replace a full diagnostic and comprehensive hearing test completed by an audiologist.
If you have concerns about your hearing, reach out to the team at Victorian Hearing, your local, independent, and Australian owned and operated hearing clinic. With ten clinics across Melbourne, you are sure to find a friendly smile and support from the Victorian Hearing team. Call (03) 9558 8842 or book online.