Audiologists play an important role in helping their patients hear better. These medical professionals, who often work at hearing centers and other locations, can help treat a wide variety of hearing issues including general hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis, and more.
When you first visit a hearing center, you will likely need to undergo a series of hearing tests and questions. During these tests, your audiologist will attempt to better understand your current ability to hear and also identify any of the underlying issues that may be present. Tinnitus, for example, affects about 20 percent of the adult population. This specific symptom is characterized by regular buzzing in the ear and is strongly correlated with many other hearing issues.
Once the hearing tests are complete, your audiologist will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment(s). The recommended treatments may include sound therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), hearing aids, and various others. The best audiologists will use an evidence-based approach to treatment that is entirely tailored to your specific needs.
Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, you may be hesitant to visit an audiologist or go anywhere that isn’t considered “absolutely necessary.” However, hearing issues, like many other medical issues, tend to get worse if they are not immediately addressed. If you are unsure about whether it is appropriate to visit the audiologist, begin by taking an online hearing test and then decide.
What Does an Online Hearing Test Consist Of?
Most online hearing tests will begin by asking you a series of questions. They will ask which symptoms you are currently experiencing including sudden changes in hearing, gradual changes in hearing, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. They will also ask about things such as whether you can usually hear entire conversations, whether you can hear the television at an ordinary volume, and whether you often need to ask people to repeat themselves.
After the questions, you will then usually do some physical hearing test. These tests may consist of someone saying numbers with other noises in the background. Once completed, you will be prompted to give your contact information so the corresponding hearing center can process your results and send them directly to you.
What is the Best Setting for Taking an Online Hearing Test?
In order to get the most accurate results possible, it is recommended that you complete the hearing test in a quiet setting with little to no other noises present. Additionally, while most online hearing tests will allow you to choose between using speakers or headphones, headphones (especially noise-canceling headphones) are typically recommended.
Are Online Hearing Tests Legitimate?
Hearing tests can be very useful. During the questionnaire section, you will have a chance to self-reflect and evaluate whether your current hearing experience is normal or abnormal. Most people need to ask others to repeat themselves occasionally, but this is not something that should happen very often. Additionally, if you have been experiencing a decline in hearing or ringing in your ears (tinnitus), it is much more likely that a trip to the audiologist will ultimately be recommended.
While online hearing tests are very useful, it is also important to note that these are not used to issue any sort of formal diagnosis. Even if you fail the live hearing portion of the test, you will not be able to get a prescription for hearing aids or even be diagnosed as hard of hearing. Instead, you will receive an e-mail recommending that you visit an audiologist and receive a live, comprehensive hearing examination.
Audiologists are professionals who not only know how to issue a proper diagnosis but also have access to professional, properly calibrated equipment. As long as you do not rely on the hearing test for receiving a diagnosis, then the test itself can still be quite useful.
What Conditions can Online Hearing Tests Address?
Hearing tests will generally mostly focus on your ability to hear specific sounds (such as someone saying numbers) with other sounds in the background. Your inability to pass these tests can be caused by multiple different hearing issues including age-related hearing loss, internal ear damage, tinnitus, hyperacusis, and many others. As a result, whether you pass or fail a hearing test can indicate many different things. Only a trained audiologist can give a formal diagnosis.
Will I Still Need to Take Another Hearing Test at the Audiologist?
As suggested, an online hearing test is a “gateway” to visiting an audiologist, where you will then be given the opportunity to complete a more comprehensive examination. The in-person exam will also include things such as a physical examination of the ears, pure-tone testing, and speech testing. Once these supplementary exams are complete, the audiologist will be able to generate an audiogram that maps your ability to hear. From there, you will finally be ready to receive a full treatment recommendation.
Even as many businesses have been closing their doors in response to COVID-19, most audiology clinics have remained open and operating. Many are taking additional cleaning and safety measures, as well. If you are hoping to only visit the clinic if it’s necessary, begin by taking an online hearing test. Though these tests should not be used for obtaining a diagnosis, they can help you better understand whether or not your current ability to hear is normal.