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

It might seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. Most letters may sound clear at high or low volumes but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. When you learn how to interpret your hearing test it becomes more obvious why your hearing is “inconsistent”. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.

How do I read the results of my audiogram?

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

Many individuals 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 portion of your audiogram

The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to around 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 about 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. You have moderate hearing loss if your hearing begins at 45-65 dB. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. Profound hearing loss means that you’re unable to hear until the volume gets up to 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Reading frequency on a hearing test

You hear other things besides volume also. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly called pitches in music. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are distinguished by frequency or pitch.

Along the bottom of the chart, you’ll usually 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 test how well you hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the chart.

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

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so important

So in real life, what might 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 comprehend:

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

While a person with high-frequency hearing loss has more difficulty with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies might seem easier to hear than others.

Inside of your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that shake along with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up 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.

Communicating with others can become really frustrating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. Your family members could think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular wavelengths. In addition, those who have this kind of hearing loss find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

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

When we are able to recognize which frequencies you cannot hear well or at all, we can fine tune a hearing aid to meet each ear’s distinct hearing profile. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies enter the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can adjust the frequency by using frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. Additionally, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

This delivers a smoother more normal hearing experience for the hearing aid wearer because rather than simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your unique hearing needs.

Make an appointment for a hearing test right away if you think you may be dealing with hearing loss. We can help.

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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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