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

Measuring hearing loss is more technical than it might at first seem. 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 just fine at any volume. When you learn how to understand your hearing test it becomes more obvious why your hearing seems “inconsistent”. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.

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

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

Many individuals find the graph format complicated at first. But if you are aware of what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Reading volume on a hearing test

The volume in Decibels is outlined 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 capable of hearing it. Higher numbers mean that in order for you to hear it, you will require louder sound.

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. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. If you start 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’re dealing with profound hearing loss.

Reading frequency on a hearing test

You hear other things besides volume also. 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.

Along the lower section of the graph, you’ll generally see frequencies that a human ear can detect, going from a low frequency of 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)

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

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 an elevated volume). The graph will plot the volumes that the various frequencies will have to reach before you’re able to hear them.

Is it essential to measure both frequency and volume?

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

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

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

Inside of your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. If the cells that pick up a specific frequency become damaged and ultimately 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 regardless of volume.

Communicating with other people can become extremely frustrating if you’re dealing with this kind of hearing loss. You might have difficulty only hearing some frequencies, but your family members may assume they have to yell in order for you to hear them at all. On top of that, those with this kind of hearing loss find background noise overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

We can utilize the hearing test to individualize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency enters the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid instantly knows if you can hear that frequency. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you can hear it. Or it can adjust the frequency by using frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

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

Schedule 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.
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