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

Measuring 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 certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at any volume. When you learn how to interpret your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just cranking up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

Hearing professionals will be able to determine the state of your hearing by using this type of hearing test. It would be terrific if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that isn’t the situation.

Many people find the graph format confusing at first. But you too can understand a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.

Looking at volume on an audiogram

The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). This number will identify 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 reaches around 30 dB then you’re dealing with 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 begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. 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.

Examining frequency on a hearing test

Volume’s not 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 differentiated by frequency or pitch.

On the lower section of the graph, you’ll generally find 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 allow us to figure out how well you can hear within a range 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 loud as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at an elevated volume). The volume that the sound must reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the chart.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so essential

Now that you know how to interpret your hearing test, let’s have a look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a quite common type of loss would make it harder to hear or comprehend:

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

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

Inside your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that shake with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and have 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 interactions with friends and family extremely aggravating. You might have trouble only hearing specific frequencies, but your family members may think they need to yell in order for you to hear them at all. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people who have this type of hearing loss.

We can use the hearing test to individualize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can alter the frequency by using frequency compression to a different frequency you can hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

Modern hearing aids are programmed to target your particular hearing requirements rather than just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother hearing experience.

If you think you might be experiencing hearing loss, call 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.