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

Measuring hearing loss is more complex than it might 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 may sound clear at any volume but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. When you figure out how to understand your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing seems “inconsistent”. It’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 using this type of hearing test. It won’t look as simple as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did!)

Rather, it’s printed on a graph, and that’s why many find it perplexing. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Examining volume on an audiogram

On 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 around 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. You have moderate hearing loss if your hearing starts at 45-65 dB. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it means 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

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 distinguished 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 usually listed along the bottom of the chart.

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

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

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so significant

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 more difficult to hear or comprehend:

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

Certain specific frequencies may be more difficult for someone with high frequency hearing loss to hear, even in the higher frequency range.

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. You will totally lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.

This kind of hearing loss can make some interactions with friends and family very frustrating. Your family members might think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain frequencies. In addition to that, those with this type of hearing loss find background noise overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister speaking to you in a restaurant.

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

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 having trouble hearing. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then make that frequency louder so you can hear it. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can better hear. In addition, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

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

If you believe you may be dealing with 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.
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