How to Understand 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 seem at first. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You may confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at whatever volume. It will become more evident why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to interpret your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.

How do I understand the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals use to calculate how you hear. It won’t look as straightforward as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did!)

Many people find the graph format complicated at first. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you know what you’re looking at.

Decoding the volume section of your audiogram

Along the left side of the chart is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to around 120 (thunder). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to be able to hear it.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB points to mild hearing loss. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it means you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. Profound hearing loss means that you’re unable to hear until the volume reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

The frequency portion of your audiogram

You hear other things besides volume too. You can also hear a range of frequencies or pitches of sound. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are differentiated by frequency or pitch.

Frequencies which a human ear can hear, ranging from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are normally listed on the lower section of the chart.

We will test how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then plot them on the chart.

So if you have hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at a raised volume). The chart will plot the volumes that the different frequencies will need to reach before you can hear them.

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so essential

So in real life, what might the outcome of this test mean for you? Here are some sounds that would be tougher to hear if you have the very common form of high frequency hearing loss:

  • Birds
  • Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
  • Music
  • “F”, “H”, “S”
  • Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
  • Beeps, dings, and timers

Some particular frequencies might be harder for somebody who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even in the higher frequency range.

Inside your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that vibrate with sounds. If the cells that pick up a certain frequency become damaged and eventually die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. You will totally lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.

Interacting with other people can become really frustrating if you’re suffering from this type of hearing loss. Your family members may think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people with this type of hearing loss.

Hearing solutions can be individualized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then make that frequency louder so you’re able to hear it. Or it can adjust the frequency by using frequency compression to a different frequency you can hear. Additionally, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

Modern hearing aids are fine tuned to target your specific hearing needs instead of just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother listening experience.

If you think you may be dealing with hearing loss, call 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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