Hearing Health Blog

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

It may seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be simple. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at any volume. It will become more apparent why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to read your hearing test. 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 determine the state of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It would be great if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that isn’t the case.

Rather, it’s written on a graph, which is why many find it perplexing. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.

Reading volume on an audiogram

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

If you’re unable to 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 begins at 66-85 dB. If you can’t hear sound until it gets up to 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

You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Frequencies allow you to differentiate between types of sounds, and this includes the letters of the alphabet.

On the lower section of the graph, you’ll usually 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)

This test will allow us to define how well you can hear within a range of frequencies.

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

Is it essential to track both frequency and volume?

Now that you know how to read your audiogram, let’s have a look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a quite common type of loss would make it harder to hear or understand:

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

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

Inside 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 detect those frequencies have become damaged and died. You will totally lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.

Communicating with others can become extremely frustrating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. You may have trouble only hearing certain frequencies, but your family members may assume they need to yell to be heard at all. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals with this type of hearing loss.

We can use the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your specific hearing needs once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Modern hearing aids have the ability to recognize exactly what frequencies enter the microphone. The hearing aid can be programmed to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can alter the frequency through frequency compression to another frequency that you can hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

Modern hearing aids are programmed to address your particular hearing needs 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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