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

It may seem, at first, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can probably hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, 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 notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to read your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.

How do I read the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals utilize to calculate how you hear. It won’t look as straightforward as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be great if it did!)

Many people find the graph format challenging at first. But if you know what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.

Looking at volume on a hearing test

On the left side of the chart is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to about 120 (thunder). This number will determine 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 need louder sound.

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 have 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. Profound hearing loss means that you can’t hear until the volume gets up to 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Examining frequency on a audiogram

Volume isn’t the only thing you hear. You can also hear a range of 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 typically listed along the lower section of the chart.

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

So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, 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 volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the chart.

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so essential

So in real life, what could the results of this test mean for you? Here are a few sounds that would be harder to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

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

Inside of the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and died. You will entirely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.

This kind of hearing loss can make some communications with friends and family very aggravating. Your family members might think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. In addition to that, those with this kind of hearing impairment find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

We can utilize the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Contemporary 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 difficulty hearing. Or it can change the frequency through frequency compression to a different frequency you can hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

This creates a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid wearer because instead of just making everything louder, it’s meeting your unique hearing needs.

Make an appointment for a hearing test 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.