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

Measuring hearing loss is more technical than it may seem at first. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can probably hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. The majority of letters might sound clear at any volume but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. When you figure out how to read your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing seems “inconsistent”. That’s because there’s more to hearing than just cranking up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

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

Many people find the graph format confusing at first. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Reading volume on a hearing test

The volume in Decibels is detailed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). This number will identify how loud a sound has to be for you to be able to hear it. Higher numbers signify that in order for you to hear it, you will need louder sound.

If you can’t hear any sound until it reaches around 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts 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’re dealing with profound hearing loss.

Examining frequency on a hearing test

Volume’s not the only thing you hear. 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 that a human ear can hear, from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are typically listed on the bottom of the chart.

This test will allow us to figure out how well you can hear within a span of wavelengths.

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 somebody 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 significant

Now that you know how to read your audiogram, let’s take a look at what those results might mean for you in real life. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common form of loss would make it more difficult to hear or comprehend:

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

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

Inside of the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. If the cells that detect a specific frequency become damaged and eventually die, you 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 corresponding hair cells.

Interacting with other people can become really aggravating if you’re dealing with this kind of hearing loss. Your family members might think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. In addition, those with this kind of hearing loss find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

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

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing requirements once we’re able to understand 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 raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can adjust the frequency through frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. They also have features that can make processing background sound less difficult.

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

If you believe you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and 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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