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

Determining hearing loss is more complex than it may at first seem. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. Most letters might sound clear at any volume but others, such as “s” and “b” may get lost. When you figure out how to interpret your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing seems “inconsistent”. Because simply turning up the volume isn’t enough.

How do I understand the results of my audiogram?

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 won’t look as simple as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did!)

Instead, it’s written on a graph, which is why many individuals find it perplexing. But if you know what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.

Interpreting 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 hear it.

If you’re unable to 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 begins at 45-65 dB. If you start hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates 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.

The frequency section of your hearing test

Volume isn’t the only thing you hear. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are distinguished by frequency or pitch.

On the bottom of the graph, you’ll typically find frequencies that a human ear can hear, starting 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 define how well you can hear within a range of frequencies.

So if you have hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at an elevated volume). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the graph.

Why tracking both volume and frequency is so important

So in the real world, what might 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
  • Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
  • Music
  • Birds
  • “F”, “H”, “S”
  • Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices

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

Inside of the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and have died. If all of the cells that pick up that frequency are damaged, then you entirely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.

Communicating with others can become very frustrating if you’re dealing with this type of hearing loss. Your family members could think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister talking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people who have this kind of hearing loss.

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

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. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to know exactly what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then make that frequency louder so you’re able to hear it. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can better hear. In addition, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

This creates 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.

If you believe you may be dealing with 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.
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