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 dealing with hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain 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” may get lost. When you learn how to interpret your hearing test it becomes more obvious why your hearing seems “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 determine the condition of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It would be wonderful if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but unfortunately, that isn’t the situation.

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

Examining volume on an audiogram

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

If you’re unable to hear any sound until it reaches about 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of sound between 26 and 45 dB. You’re dealing with moderate hearing loss if your hearing starts at 45-65 dB. If you start hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it means you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. 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.

The frequency section of your audiogram

Volume’s not the only thing you hear. You can also hear different frequencies or pitches of sound. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are differentiated by frequency or pitch.

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

We will test how well you hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the graph.

So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as loud as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at an elevated volume). The graph will plot the volumes that the different frequencies will need to reach before you’re able to hear them.

Is it significant to measure both frequency and volume?

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 prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

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

Within the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and have died. If all of the cells that detect that frequency are damaged, then you entirely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.

This kind of hearing loss can make some interactions with loved ones very aggravating. Your family members might think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister talking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals who have this type of hearing loss.

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

When we can understand which frequencies you can’t hear well or at all, we can fine tune a hearing aid to meet each ear’s unique hearing profile. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to know exactly 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 utilize its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can better hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound less difficult.

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

Schedule an appointment for a hearing exam right away if you think you might 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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