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

Determining hearing loss is more technical than it may seem at first. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can probably hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You might confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at whatever volume. It will become more evident why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to interpret your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than simply cranking up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

Hearing professionals will be able to determine the condition of your hearing by making use of this type of hearing test. It would be wonderful if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that’s not the case.

Many individuals 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.

Interpreting the volume portion of your hearing test

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

If you can’t hear any sound until it is around 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume 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 indicates you have severe hearing loss. 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

You hear other things besides volume too. You can also hear different frequencies or pitches of sound. Frequencies allow you to distinguish between types of sounds, including the letters of the alphabet.

Along the lower section of the graph, you’ll usually see frequencies that a human ear can detect, starting 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 figure out how well you can hear within a span of wavelengths.

So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at an elevated volume). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the graph.

Is it important to measure both frequency and volume?

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

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

Certain specific frequencies might be more challenging for a person with high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.

Inside your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that shake along with sounds. If the cells that detect 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 entirely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.

Communicating with others can become really aggravating if you’re suffering from this type of hearing loss. You may have trouble only hearing some frequencies, but your family members may think they have 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 people with this kind of hearing loss.

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

When we are able to understand which frequencies you don’t hear well or at all, we can fine tune a hearing aid to meet each ear’s unique hearing profile. In contemporary digital hearing aids, if a frequency goes into the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid immediately knows whether you can hear that frequency. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can make use of 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 instead of just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother hearing experience.

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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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