What Are the Pros and Cons of Online Hearing Tests During COVID-19?

Your wonderful sense of hearing allows you to communicate with friends and family every day. Good hearing is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you connect with loved ones on the phone or an app such as Zoom, you want to be able to hear everything they say clearly. If you’re experiencing issues hearing, are online hearing tests a good solution?

What Are the Benefits of Online Hearing Tests During COVID-19?

The answer to whether online hearing tests are helpful is yes and no. Taking an online hearing test provides important advantages in the middle of coronavirus outbreaks, but it also has certain limitations. First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • COVID-19 protection: One of the most important advantages of online hearing tests is being able to stay safe at home. If you or an immediate family member are in a high risk category for COVID-19, these tests are a great option.
  • Convenience: Few things are easier than scheduling an online hearing test with a hearing professional. The entire telehealth visit happens in the privacy of your own home. You can use a laptop, tablet or smart TV.
  • Comfort: Some patients feel more comfortable with remote telehealth appointments instead of in-person hearing care right now. We understand and respect that. If you want to take the test in a comfy chair while wearing pajamas, that’s just fine.

Our team takes every precaution to keep patients protected from the coronavirus. This includes in-depth disinfecting and scheduling private visits at specific times so you don’t have to wait. On the other hand, many older adults still prefer not to leave the house right now. With an online hearing test, you don’t have to.

How Accurate Is an Online Hearing Test?

While there are many benefits to online screening, especially during COVID-19, this type of testing can’t compare to an in-person visit with licensed audiologists. Hearing specialists can carefully calibrate the sound levels of your hearing test for accuracy. Professional hearing tests utilize a sound chamber for maximum precision.

At home, there may be noises around you that can complicate the results of an online hearing test. This can get in the way of accuracy. That said, online hearing tests are useful as a preliminary step in checking your ears. They can confirm suspected hearing issues and let you know when visiting an audiologist is necessary.

How Do Online Hearing Tests Work?

It’s important to understand that not all online hearing tests are the same. Some are overly simple, merely playing a few sounds and asking you to identify words. The results of these tests are rarely accurate. This isn’t surprising, because there’s no evidence they were created by an actual hearing specialist.

The best online hearing tests are part of a telehealth visit with an audiologist. This type of screening is far more accurate because it’s administered by a licensed hearing professional. What can you expect during your online hearing test?

  • Comprehensive hearing evaluation: During a telehealth visit, the audiologist will begin by asking you a number of questions about your hearing. These questions provide information about your overall hearing levels and any problem areas. Certain symptoms may tell the doctor that an in-person visit is needed or urgent, which helps to keep your hearing safe.
  • Careful audio testing: Online screening sessions can be carefully adjusted for accuracy. Our team recommends being in a quiet part of the home if possible. If you have telehealth-compatible hearing aids, the accuracy of online tests is phenomenal. These devices allow for remote adjustments and control.
  • Clear answers: One of the biggest advantages to telehealth over simple online tests is that you can find answers to your questions. An audiologist doesn’t just tell you what is going in, but also explains why and what may be causing the issue. We’re happy to answer everything we can during a remote visit.
  • Professional recommendations: At the end of your visit, the audiologist will provide expert recommendations. These may include scheduling hearing care, mentioning device options or making remote adjustments to your hearing aids. For example, if you’re experiencing ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, certain medications may be the cause. With some adjustments, you may find relief.

If hearing issues appear serious, our personnel may recommend an in-person follow up session. This allows for visual inspection of the ear canal and a tympanogram of hearing components, measuring how each part of your ear responds to sound. When hearing devices are needed to improve your quality of life, such as with age-related hearing loss, we can help you select the right hearing aid options for your lifestyle.

Why Is It Important To Avoid Putting Off a Hearing Test?

After age 50, it’s a good idea to get tested for hearing changes every three years. Medical professionals recommend everyone schedule screening at least every 10 years. Hearing tests, online or otherwise, can make you aware of warning signs for high blood pressure or diabetes.

Following an audiologist’s recommendations helps to keep the sensitive working parts in your ears safe and sound for a long time. Isn’t being able to hear your loved ones clearly worth it?

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