How to Interpret Your Hearing Test or Audiogram

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

Measuring hearing loss is more complex than it may seem at first. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. Most letters may sound clear at high or low volumes but others, such as “s” and “b” may get lost. When you learn how to read your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. That’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals employ to ascertain how you hear. It would be wonderful if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that isn’t the situation.

Many individuals find the graph format complicated at first. But if you are aware of what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.

Decoding the volume section of your audiogram

The volume in Decibels is outlined on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). 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 starts at 45-65 dB. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. Profound hearing loss means that you’re unable to hear until the volume reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Examining frequency on a hearing test

Volume isn’t 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 distinguished by frequency or pitch.

On the lower section of the chart, you’ll generally find frequencies that a human ear can hear, going from a low frequency of 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)

We will test how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the chart.

So if you have hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as loud as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at a raised volume). The volume that the sound must reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the graph.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so essential

So in real life, what might the results of this test mean for you? Here are some sounds that would be more difficult to hear if you have the very common form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

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

Inside your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that move 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 totally lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.

This type of hearing loss can make some communications with friends and family extremely frustrating. You might have difficulty only hearing specific frequencies, but your family members may think they need to yell to be heard at all. In addition to that, those who have this type of hearing loss find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister speaking to you in a restaurant.

We can utilize the hearing test to individualize hearing solutions

When we are able to recognize which frequencies you can’t hear well or at all, we can fine tune a hearing aid to meet each ear’s distinct hearing profile. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to know exactly what frequencies enter the microphone. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to change the frequency to one you can hear better. Additionally, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

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 dealing with 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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    Delaney Hearing Center

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