Hearing Test Audiograms and How to Interpret Them

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

It might seem, at first, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can most likely hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You may confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at any volume. It will become more evident why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to read your hearing test. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.

When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher it?

Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the state of your hearing by making use of this type of hearing test. It would be terrific if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that’s not the situation.

Rather, it’s printed on a graph, which is why many individuals find it confusing. But you too can understand a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.

Deciphering the volume portion of your audiogram

The volume in Decibels is indexed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound needs to be for you to be able to hear it.

If you can’t hear any sound until it is about 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing begins at 66-85 dB. If you are unable to hear sound until it gets up to 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you have profound hearing loss.

The frequency portion of your audiogram

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

On the lower section of the chart, you’ll generally see 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)

This test will let us ascertain how well you can hear within a span of wavelengths.

So, for illustration, if you have high-frequency hearing loss, in order for you to hear a high-frequency sound it may have to be at least 60 dB (which is around the volume of an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The chart will plot the volumes that the different frequencies will need to reach before you can hear them.

Is it significant to track both frequency and volume?

Now that you understand how to interpret your audiogram, let’s take a look at what those results might mean for you in real life. Here are a few sounds that would be more difficult to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

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

Inside your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that shake with sounds. If the cells that detect a certain frequency become damaged and eventually die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that pick up that frequency are damaged, then you completely lose your ability to hear that frequency even at higher volumes.

Communicating with others can become extremely aggravating if you’re suffering from this type of hearing loss. You might have trouble only hearing some frequencies, but your family members might assume they have to yell to be heard at all. In addition to that, those who have this type of hearing impairment find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister speaking to you in a restaurant.

We can use the hearing test to individualize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your particular hearing requirements once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. The hearing aid can be programmed to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can better hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

This delivers a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid user because rather than just making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.

If you believe you might be experiencing hearing loss, contact 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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