How to Interpret 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. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. Most letters might sound clear at any volume but others, such as “s” and “b” may get lost. It will become more evident why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to interpret your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than simply cranking up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals utilize to calculate how you hear. It would be terrific if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Instead, it’s written on a graph, which is why many find it perplexing. But if you know what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Decoding the volume section of your audiogram

Along the left side of the chart is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to about 120 (thunder). This number will define how loud a sound needs to be for you to be able to hear it. Higher numbers mean that in order for you to hear it, you will require louder sound.

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

Examining frequency on a hearing test

Volume’s not the only thing you hear. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly called pitches in music. Frequencies help you differentiate between types of sounds, including the letters of the alphabet.

Along the lower section of the graph, you’ll typically see 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 hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the chart.

So if you have hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you might 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 various frequencies will need to reach before you’re able to hear them.

Is it important to track both frequency and volume?

Now that you know how to interpret your audiogram, let’s take a look at what those results might mean for you in the real world. Here are a few sounds that would be more difficult to hear if you have the very common form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

While someone who has high-frequency hearing loss has more trouble with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies may seem easier to hear than others.

Within the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) move in response to sound waves. If the cells that detect a certain frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. You will completely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.

This kind of hearing loss can make some interactions with friends and family extremely aggravating. You might have difficulty only hearing some frequencies, but your family members might assume they have to yell in order for you to hear them at all. And higher frequency sounds, like 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 utilizing a hearing test

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 can hear that frequency. It can then make that frequency louder so you can hear it. Or it can change the frequency by using frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound simpler.

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

If you believe you may be dealing with 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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