Hearing Test Audiograms and How to Interpret Them

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

It might seem, at first, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can probably hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You may confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at any volume. It will become more apparent why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to read your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.

When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher it?

Hearing professionals will be able to determine the condition of your hearing by making use of this type of hearing test. It would be wonderful if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but unfortunately, that’s not the situation.

Many people find the graph format challenging 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

On the left side of the graph 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 hear it.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB signifies mild hearing loss. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing begins at 66-85 dB. Profound hearing loss means that you can’t hear until the volume reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Examining frequency on a audiogram

You hear other things besides volume also. You can also hear a range of frequencies or pitches of sound. Frequencies allow you to differentiate between types of sounds, and this includes the letters of the alphabet.

On the bottom of the graph, you’ll typically see frequencies that a human ear can detect, starting from a low frequency of 125 (deeper 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 plot them on the graph.

So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as loud as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at an elevated volume). The graph will plot the volumes that the various frequencies will need to reach before you can hear them.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so important

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

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

Certain specific frequencies may be more difficult for somebody who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even in the higher frequency range.

Inside your inner ear you have tiny hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and have died. You will completely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.

This type of hearing loss can make some interactions with loved ones extremely frustrating. You might have difficulty only hearing some frequencies, but your family members might assume they have to yell to be heard at all. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people who have this type of hearing loss.

Hearing solutions can be personalized by a hearing professional by using a hearing test

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to know exactly what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you can hear it. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can better hear. They also have features that can make processing background sound simpler.

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

If you think you may be experiencing 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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