Hearing Test Audiograms and How to Understand Them


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. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can probably hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You might confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at whatever volume. When you figure out how to read your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. Because simply turning up the volume isn’t enough.

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

Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the state 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 regrettably, that isn’t the case.

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.

Interpreting 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 needs to be for you to hear it.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB points to mild hearing loss. You’re dealing with 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 reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

The frequency section of your audiogram

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

On the bottom of the graph, you’ll usually 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)

This test will let us determine how well you can hear within a range of wavelengths.

So, for example, if you have 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 about 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 can hear them.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so essential

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

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

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

Inside of your inner ear there are very small 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.

Communicating with other people can become very aggravating if you’re dealing with this type of hearing loss. Your family members might think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain wavelengths. On top of that, those who have this type of hearing loss find background noise overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

We can use the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. In contemporary digital hearing aids, if a frequency goes into the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid instantly knows if you’re able to hear that frequency. It can then make that frequency louder so you’re able to hear it. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can hear better. In addition, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

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

Make an appointment for a hearing exam right away if you think you may be suffering from 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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