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 most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. Most letters might sound clear at high or low volumes but others, like “s” and “b” may get lost. It will become more obvious why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to interpret your hearing test. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply cranking up the volume.

How do I understand the results of my audiogram?

Hearing professionals will be able to determine the condition of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It would be terrific if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that isn’t the case.

Many people find the graph format confusing at first. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.

Interpreting the volume portion of your hearing test

Along the left side of the graph is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to about 120 (thunder). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to hear it.

If you’re unable to hear any sound until it is 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. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. If you are unable to 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 audiogram

Volume isn’t 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.

Frequencies that a human ear can hear, ranging from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are normally listed on the bottom of the graph.

We will check 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 frequencies, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at a raised volume). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the chart.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so significant

So in the real world, what could the outcome of this test mean for you? High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common type of loss would make it more difficult to hear or understand:

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

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

Within the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. If the cells that pick up a certain frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that detect that frequency are damaged, then you completely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.

Interacting with others can become extremely aggravating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. Your family members could think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain frequencies. And higher frequency sounds, like 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 individualize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular 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 go into the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can better hear. Additionally, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

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

If you believe you may be experiencing hearing loss, call 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.