Online Hearing Exams: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Watch the video: Online hearing exam video

Despite the widespread use of technology to order food, find a parking space or help sell your car. There’s an app for everything now right? In fact, you can even get your hearing tested online. Yes, that’s right…

But under the category: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” let’s take a closer look at those online tests:

Most tests use a survey or ask you to listen to audio files of tones or spoken words. One test may ask you to pick out a series of words from background noise ….another may focus on comparing tones at different frequencies. Most tests will give you immediate results, or email them to you soon after the test.

All well and good….but let’s talk about what these tests can and cannot do ok?

Online tests can give you an indication of whether or not you have hearing loss…They are a good way to see if your hearing has returned to normal after being in a stressful situation, like a concert or sporting event. They can also provide access to hearing health information that can help you conserve your hearing with the help of a referral to an audiologist, like me.

However, online hearing tests are not a substitute for a proper hearing test done by a hearing health professional….to their credit, most online hearing websites do emphasize this.

These tests cannot diagnose your hearing problem or determine if you need a hearing aid. You may have conductive hearing loss from excessive ear wax or a tumor that impairs your hearing.

Online hearing tests are also only as good as your technology—if you have an old computer with faulty speakers, that may affect your online test results. If you were wearing headphones, were they fitted properly? Also, if you are calibrating your own computer equipment, you may be subjecting the test to a higher degree of human error. Most online tests do mention this and most also recommend you visit a qualified, licensed, professional audiologist to get a true reading.

So my take home message is: if you are going to see an audiologist anyway, why not just call me at 630.752.9505 and make an appointment?


Preventing Hearing Loss

8 Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

Credited to: By Wyatt Myers | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

While many causes of hearing loss are noise-induced, others can be quite surprising. Because their effects are cumulative, protect your ears by minimizing your exposure to all of them.

There are many health problems in life that you just can’t prevent, but hearing loss is one condition over which you do have some control.

Sheri Billing, AuD, doctor of audiology and president of The Hearing Doctors in Wheaton, Ill., says you can change whether or not you let noise damage your ears.

You can do this by identifying the causes of hearing loss, such as noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus (a persistent sound or ringing in your ears), and then finding ways to eliminate these causes, whether it’s through hearing protection or simply avoidance of the noise.

“Think of noise exposure like a bucket. It continues to fill through one’s life,” says Billing. “Making changes now will have a positive impact later in life. Noise exposure is accumulative. It rarely has an instant effect on one’s hearing, but rather a gradual one.”

Strategies to Minimize Hearing Loss

There are several steps you can take to minimize your exposure to noise and maintain good health for your ears.

Strategy No. 1: Be careful around machinery. Billing says that basic yard and home machinery is a common cause of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, and you can avoid this by simply wearing hearing protection when using lawn mowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers, shop vacuums, chain saws, power tools, air guns, and real guns. Foam ear plugs are helpful, but it’s worth investing a few dollars in a noise-canceling headset for the greatest protection.

Strategy No. 2: Protect your ears at loud concerts and sporting events. Billing says that the same strategy should also be followed when it comes to the noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus that can come from concerts and certain sporting events, particularly car races. She also adds that one noisy venue where hearing protection is often overlooked is inside an airplane.

headphones-cause-deafness-articleStrategy No. 3: Follow the iPod rules. “When it comes to iPods, a good rule to live by is the 60/60 rule,” says Billing. That means you should never use an iPod for more than 60 minutes a day at 60 percent of the volume. “Also, never wear your iPod while operating heavy equipment like a lawn mower. The lawn mower is already at 90 decibels, and then placing ear buds in and turning on music makes it so that you have to turn the music up even louder to hear over the lawn mower,” Billing says.

Strategy No. 4: Set the iPod for your kids. As far as your kids’ iPod usage goes, Billing has a simple trick for regulating this as well. “You can set the internal volume of the iPod by going to Apple’s website and setting the max volume for your children,” she says. “This is a great way to make sure they never turn it up too loudly.” Apple offers a software update on its site for newer iPod models which locks in the volume and protects the setting with a pass code.

Strategy No. 5: Look for signs of infection. Infection is another common cause of hearing loss, especially among children. Be vigilant in looking for the warning signs of an ear infection, so that you can see your doctor for treatment immediately. Signs parent can look for include a child who is not responsive, sets the TV louder than normal, is pulling on the ear, has a red ear, or is talking very loudly, says Billing.

Strategy No. 6: Be careful with aspirin intake. Some medications are ototoxic, which means that they can cause damage to the ear and become a cause of hearing loss. The most common of these is high doses of aspirin. Monitor how much aspirin you take, particularly if you have a history of hearing or ear problems. If you’re worried, discuss this issue with your doctor.

Strategy No. 7: Talk to your doctor about your medications. Hundreds of other drugs, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and chemotherapy drugs, are also ototoxic. “Always talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking and how important they are to your overall health,” says Billing. “Sometimes the side effects are worse than the help they may provide.”

Strategy No. 8: Don’t put anything in your ears. The advice is the simplest and is especially important for young children. Let them know that sticking any foreign objects, such as crayons, into their ears can result in injury or infection. Even adults need to take extra precaution in this area when it comes to the use of cotton ear swabs.

Hearing aids give you a great return on your investment

Smart buying decisions: How hearing aids are a great investment

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 1.50.36 PMIf you’re one of the nearly 40 million Americans who suffer with hearing loss, maybe it’s time to consider investing in your hearing health.

Research shows that the rewards can be substantial. In fact, identifying and addressing hearing loss has been shown to positively influence virtually every aspect of an individual’s life, helping people personally, professionally and even financially.

New technological advances have revolutionized hearing aids in recent years. Today’s hearing aids can automatically adjust to all kinds of sound environments and filter out noise. Many are virtually invisible, sitting discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal. Some are even waterproof, and others are rechargeable. Best of all, many are wireless, so you can stream sound from smartphones, home entertainment systems and other electronics directly into your hearing aid(s) at volumes just right for you.

When it comes to the purchase of personal items that enhance your life, there’s more than one way to measure value. Here are six ways that investing in professionally fitted hearing aids—if recommended by a hearing care professional following a comprehensive hearing evaluation—could bring you a greater return on your investment than you ever imagined.

Unleash your earning potential. Using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss, according to a Better Hearing Institute (BHI) study. People with untreated hearing loss lost as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study showed.

Maintain your cognitive function. Research shows a link between hearing loss and dementia, leading experts to believe that interventions, like hearing aids, could potentially delay or prevent dementia. Research is ongoing.

Keep you on your feet. A Johns Hopkins study showed that people in middle age (40-69) with even just mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. The intensive listening effort demanded by unaddressed hearing loss may take cognitive resources away from what is needed for balance and gait, experts have suggested.

Relieve stress and lift your mood. When people with hearing loss use hearing aids, many feel more in control of their lives and less self-critical, BHI research shows. One study found that the majority of people with mild and severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and life overall as a result of using hearing aids.

Tame that ringing in your ears. Hearing aids can help reduce the prominence of tinnitus by amplifying background sound. Just taking the focus off the tinnitus can provide relief for many people. Hearing aids also reduce the stress associated with intensive listening, which alone can help relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Strengthen your relationships. Research shows that using hearing aids can help improve interpersonal relationships. In one BHI study of people with hearing loss, more than half of the respondents said using hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social lives and their ability to join in groups. Many even saw improvements in their romantic lives.

Addressing hearing loss really is a smart buying decision.

Article courtesy of Better Hearing Institute.

Paying for Hearing Aids

You have options when paying for your hearing aids

Patients often ask me: what payment options do I have for my hearing aid? There are several possible options, though none of them may be perfect.
1. Check your employer-based insurance to see what benefit your employer is covering.
2. Medicare will cover the hearing exam, but not the hearing aids.
3. Some private, non profit foundations like the Starkey Foundation or your local Lions Club, provide some coverage.
4. Many audiologists offer financing for your hearing aid, usually through Wells Fargo or Care Credit.

I encourage you to make an appointment with us at The Hearing Doctors and I can help you make the right decision. Visit us at or call us at 630.752.9505

Preventing Hearing Loss

Can I prevent myself from experiencing or worsening hearing loss?

Yes! Did you know that one-third of hearing loss is preventable?

Hearing loss is often created by exposure to loud noises, like an explosion or gun shot, or repeated noise, like machinery in a plant or from listening to loud music in an ear bud for an extend period of time.

Hearing loss can be prevented but it requires some work on your end:
• Beware of recreational sources of hazardous noise like firearms, firecrackers, power tools, music concerts, dance clubs, NASCAR, sporting events, motorcycles, motorboats, snowmobiles, powerboats.

• The risk for hearing loss due to exposure to noise is especially high among factory and heavy industry workers, transportation workers, military personnel, construction workers, miners, farmers, firefighters, police officers, musicians, and entertainment industry professionals.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing

• If you work in an at-risk occupation, check with your employer to make sure that your jobsite has an effective program to adequately protect your hearing, meeting federal or state regulations.

• Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, consistently when using loud equipment at work or at home. Foam earplugs are available at your pharmacy, earmuffs can be purchased at sporting goods or safety equipment stores, and specialized hearing protection is available from hearing clinics.

• Limit exposure to noisy activities at home. Monitor your listening level and how long you are listening to personal listening devices (like MP3 players, such as iPods). Encourage your children to use their headphones conservatively. Consider investing in higher quality earphones that block out background noise, to help you moderate your listening levels in noisier places. Note: being able to overhear your child’s headphones is not a good way to tell if they are listening too loud! If you can hear it, their music might be too loud, but just because you can’t hear it, that doesn’t mean the levels are ok.

• Keep an “eye” on your hearing – if you are over 50, see a hearing health professional routinely for hearing testing, or if offered through your employer, ensure you know your hearing test results and track it year-to-year.

To make an appointment, call us at 630.952.7505.