Savvy Senior: free online hearing tests you can do at home
Dear wise senior,
Can you recommend good online hearing tests?
My husband has hearing loss but I can’t get him checked out so I thought a simple online test might help him recognize he has a problem.
What can you tell me?
Speak Loud Linda
There are actually a growing number of great online and app-based hearing tests that will allow your husband to check his hearing himself.
These tests are a quick and convenient option for the millions of Americans who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss, but are often unaware of it or don’t want to worry about the hassle or expense of visiting a audiologist for a hearing test.
Who should test?
Hearing loss for most people develops gradually over many years of wear and tear, which is why many people don’t realize they actually have a hearing problem.
Anyone who has difficulty hearing or understanding what people are saying, especially in noisier environments or on the phone, or anyone who requires a higher music or TV volume than others, should take a few minutes to test their hearing.
Online and app-based hearing tests can be a great screening tool.
They are not meant to be a diagnosis, but rather to give you an idea of the severity of your hearing loss and what can be done about it.
For most do-it-yourself hearing tests, you’ll be advised to wear headphones or earphones and sit in a quiet place.
You should also know that there are two different types of tests.
One type is known as a pure tone test, where tones are played at decreasing volumes to determine your specific level of hearing loss.
The other type is known as Speech in Noise or Numbers in Noise (DIN) where you will be asked to identify words, numbers or phrases amidst background noise.
Where to test
If your husband uses a smartphone or tablet, two of my favorite app-based hearing tests are the hearWHO app created by the World Health Organization and the Mimi Hearing Test app.
Both apps are free and available through the App Store and Google Play.
HearWHO allows users to check their hearing status and monitor it over time using a DIN test, while Mimi uses pure tone and masked threshold tests to give you a detailed picture of your hearing abilities .
There are also a wide variety of online hearing tests that your husband can perform on a computer.
Some of the best online tests – all offered by hearing aid manufacturers – for speech in noise or DIN testing can be accessed at ReSound (resound.com/en-us/online-hearing-test) and Miracle Ear ( miracle-ear.com/online-hearing-test).
And some good online hearing tests for pure tone testing are available from Signia
(signia.net/en/service/hearing-test); Ergo (eargo.com/hearing-health/hearing-check); and MD Hearing Aid (mdhearingaid.com/hearing-test).
All of these hearing tests are completely free and take less than five minutes.
What to do with the results
If the tests indicate that your husband has hearing loss, it’s best to take that as a starting point.
He should take the results to his doctor or an audiologist for further evaluation.
Many Medicare Advantage insurers and plans cover routine hearing exams, but Original Medicare does not.
If his hearing loss is mild to moderate, he should look into the new over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, which will be available this fall online and at retailers like Best Buy, Walgreens and CVS.
Over-the-counter hearing aids don’t require a prescription or medical exam to purchase, and they’re much more affordable than traditional hearing aids that you buy from a licensed audiologist or hearing care professional.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.
Jim Miller is an NBC Today contributor and author of “The Savvy Senior.”