Deterioration of the human auditory system starts at about age 50. A list of factors including genetics, diet, lifestyle, an underlying illness, exposure to noise such as listening to loud music, or exposure to noise at work for extended hours could easily accelerate the decline of your hearing thresholds. That's why my recommendation to everyone is to take a screening hearing test when at 45 to 50 and every year from thereafter.
What's the difference between a hearing test and a screening test?
A proper hearing test is different from a screening hearing test. When in our audiology clinic we do a visual examination of your ears (otoscopy) to make sure that your ear canals and your eardrums are healthy. A case history of your hearing background and other related health histories would help connect the dots, especially if you have an ongoing concern with your hearing. A pure-tone-audiometry done with a calibrated audiometer will determine the quietest sound that you can detect so we determine the gains at each tone that you need amplification for. Our test is often followed by a speech test (SRT) to provide a better understanding of your speech discrimination handicap.
A screening hearing test on the other hand is a quick check to assess the thresholds of your hearing in 3 or 5 frequency points. Unlike a proper hearing test that benefits from a calibrated headphone and other transducers to the International standards, a screening hearing test takes the advantage of the user's earphones or headphones that usually are not calibrated. Hence although a screening hearing test cannot be used for diagnostic purposes, it can indicate that the user might need a proper hearing test.
How to read the result of an online screening hearing test?
You can do an online screening hearing test on HearingNow in about 7-10 minutes in the comfort of your home. A result will be sent to your email address at the end of the test. A sample is shown below.
As you see above, our online screening hearing test will test your hearing in 5 different tones. Also, the screening is done for your left and right ears separately. The result is colour coded e.g. if you could hear the Tone-1 at below 20 levels you will see a green bar for that test. If you see all results in green bars it means that you could detect all tones on both sides at or below 20 level mark. In such a case your hearing is all right.
You may detect some tones at 30 or 40 levels. In such a case, the colour code of the test bar will turn yellow and orange. And if the tone is heard at or above the 60 level mark the colour of the test bar will be red, meaning that your hearing loss might be at a severe level.
Can the screening hearing test be misleading?
Yes. There are other health-related issues that could temporarily impact your hearing. Examples of those incidents are:
Environmental noise e.g. too much background noise at the time of the screening test
Blockage of the ear canal e.g. with ear wax
Blockage of your Eustachian tube due to cold or other nasal or sinus problems
What should I do if I see a few test bars in yellow and orange?
If the results of your screening hearing test are in yellow and orange bars we would strongly suggest booking a comprehensive hearing test with us or your choice of a local audiologist. Only a proper hearing test could precisely determine the correct hearing loss of the patient.
What if the result of my screening hearing test is green and yellow?
Although you might think that my hearing screening test indicating only a mild hearing loss is nothing serious again, our advice would be to book an appointment for a comprehensive hearing test at your earliest.