Online audiology is a general assessment of hearing performed through a website. This assessment is not intended to replace a formal examination by a professional audiologist. If the online test indicates impairment, a traditional examination by a qualified professional is recommended.
The screening questions prior to online audiology testing usually include age, gender, whether hearing loss has been suspected, and results of any formal hearing screenings within the last few years. After these queries are answered, the assessment will then likely ask a number of questions designed to determine whether there is an issue with hearing.
There are different assessments available for online audiology screening. Most of them ask for honest answers regarding hearing in varied situations. Some questions may be asked regarding how others react to the individual in question. Answers should be based on hearing without a hearing aid.
Due to the variability in speaker or headphone quality and volume, an actual aural assessment is not performed in online audiology. Results are based on the test-taker’s subjective answers. For this reason, online audiology should not be used as a substitute for a traditional hearing evaluation.
A person who takes the online audiology assessment may receive results that indicate a need for further testing. This testing may be performed by an audiologist. This medical professional will usually hold a master’s or doctoral degree with professional certification in the area of audiology.
An in-person audiologic evaluation, in contrast to the online audiology assessment, usually involves a tone test. The subject may be seated in a soundproof booth or in a quiet room with headphones on. The person conducting the test will let the subject know how they should indicate that a tone has been heard. Typically, a range of sound frequencies is presented between 250 and 8000 hertz (Hz).
Hearing examinations may also include speech and word recognition to determine the subject’s capacity for hearing single and multiple-syllable words. In these tests, words are presented and the subject is asked to repeat each word. Tympanometry is a test to determine whether the inner ear is working effectively. A small probe measures the capacity of the middle ear to conduct sound.
While online audiology evaluations are useful as a starting point for determining whether someone may be experiencing hearing loss, the subjective nature of the test is inconclusive. They may indicate a need for further testing or at least raise questions that may be asked of a medical professional. For a reliable, thorough evaluation, a hearing test from a formal audiology facility or doctor is necessary.