Health-related applications (known as “apps”) for smart phones are some of the most frequently downloaded apps on the market. Young people, mid-lifers, and the “silver” generation embrace the convenience of using smart phones as mobile storage devices and personal information centers to improve, enhance, and simplify their lives. People with hearing loss and those and those who suspect they may be experiencing hearing loss have a variety of tools available to them that screen for symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss. These apps, which are readily available for iPhones, phones operating on the Android operating system, and many others, help to catch signs of hearing loss early and put individuals in control of their own health care. Smart phone apps that test for hearing loss serve as a means to help screen hearing-related conditions. This enables the user to visit an audiologist or ear doctor to relay findings. Most of these apps offer the ability ability to store results for future retrieval and share them via e-mail with a hearing care professional.
Below are some of the best iPhone and Android apps we found to check for signs of hearing loss. Keep in mind that these apps are not designed to replace the professional advice of an audiologist, hearing aid specialist, or ear doctor. They are merely designed as a “first step” to help uncover possible hearing-related problems and should then be shared with a licensed professional during a personal consultation.
Available as a free download from the iTunes Music Store, this iPhone application allows you to check your ability to hear someone speaking, even when there is a certain level of background noise. Developed by RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People – now known as Action on Hearing Loss), the application also checks hearing levels at specific frequencies to let you know whether you are in “normal” range or whether a call to your audiologist or hearing clinic is in order. With headphones connected, the test asks you to pick a series of numbers over a noisy background. You have the choice to send your results to RNID for a comparison to individuals in your age group. Together with its online version, Hearing Check has checked over 800,000 people’s hearing. More information can be found here: http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk. (Please note: this app is currently only available in the United Kingdom.)
Senses- What U Hear?
Created by Baltronic for the iPhone, this app conducts hearing screenings and is most widely used by parents of children. The application uses a series of picture tests and asks individuals to choose which picture corresponds to the word that they heard. The program then generates a response related to the participant's ability to match tones and speech with the pictures, which signals that they:
- Probably do not have hearing problems,
- Probably do have hearing problems, or
- Have hearing problems.
Specialists in the field of audiology and sound engineering have verified the system, and more information can be found by visiting the iTunes app store. Editor's note -- this app was removed from iTunes in 2013.
This application begins with a test of 15 questions, focusing on situations where you might encounter hearing problems. After answering the questions, the program tells you whether it has determined you may have a hearing problem and offers ways to contact an audiologist via the Internet. Created by AuDNet, Inc., the Hearing Test application is strictly based on written questions and answers, and does not actually conduct a tone hearing test. Hearing Test, developed for the Android market as well as iPhone, includes information about audiology and NowiHear (AuDNet's source for information on hearing, hearing loss, and related problems). Editor's note -- this app is no longer available.
Hark is unique in that it allows users to not only test their hearing, but also compare hearing test results with the rest of the Android community. The results are published anonymously and allow the comparisons against age and gender. Hark is a free app that also allows you to generate tones at specific frequencies. Editor's note -- this app is no longer available.
Checking your hearing isn't the only service available for your mobile phone. Check out "The Best Apps for Captioning," "The Best Phone Apps to Measure Noise Levels" and "The Best Apps for Learning Sign Language" to find more.