How to Read Your Hearing Test or Audiogram

Hearing aids and an otoscope placed on an audiologists desk with an audiogram hearing test chart

Determining hearing loss is more technical than it may at first seem. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. The majority of letters may sound clear at any volume but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. When you figure out how to understand your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals use to determine how you hear. It would be terrific if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that isn’t the case.

Rather, it’s written on a graph, which is why many people find it challenging. But if you are aware of what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Interpreting the volume portion of your hearing test

The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to be able to hear it.

If you can’t hear any sound until it reaches around 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. If you are unable to hear sound until it reaches 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you’re dealing with profound hearing loss.

Examining frequency on a audiogram

You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are differentiated by frequency or pitch.

Along the lower section of the graph, you’ll typically find frequencies that a human ear can detect, going from a low frequency of 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)

We will check how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the graph.

So, for illustration, if you’re dealing with high-frequency hearing loss, in order for you to hear a high-frequency sound it might have to be at least 60 dB (which is around the volume of a raised, but not yelling, voice). The graph will plot the volumes that the various frequencies will need to reach before you’re able to hear them.

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so significant

So in real life, what could the results of this test mean for you? High-frequency hearing loss, which is a quite common form of loss would make it more difficult to hear or understand:

  • Birds
  • Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
  • “F”, “H”, “S”
  • Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
  • Music
  • Beeps, dings, and timers

Certain specific frequencies may be harder for someone who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.

Inside your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that move with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and have died. You will entirely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.

Interacting with other people can become very aggravating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. Your family members could think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular wavelengths. On top of that, those who have this kind of hearing loss find background sound overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

We can utilize the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

When we are able to understand which frequencies you don’t hear well or at all, we can program a hearing aid to meet each ear’s distinct hearing profile. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize exactly what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can better hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound easier.

This delivers a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid user because rather than just making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and we can help.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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