Hearing Test Audiograms and How to Interpret Them

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

It may seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. The majority of letters may sound clear at any volume but others, such as “s” and “b” may get lost. It will become more apparent why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to interpret your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.

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

Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the state of your hearing by using this type of hearing test. It would be terrific if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that’s not the case.

Instead, it’s written on a graph, which is why many find it challenging. But if you are aware of what you’re looking at, you too can understand 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). The higher the number, the louder the sound needs to be for you to be able to hear it.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB signifies mild hearing loss. You have moderate hearing loss if your hearing starts at 45-65 dB. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing begins at 66-85 dB. Profound hearing loss means that you’re unable to hear until the volume gets up to 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

The frequency section of your 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 distinguished by frequency or pitch.

Along the bottom of the chart, you’ll typically find 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’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the graph.

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 someone 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 graph.

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so essential

Now that you understand how to read your hearing test, let’s take a look at what those results might mean for you in the real world. Here are a few sounds that would be tougher to hear if you have the very common form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

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

Inside your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and died. 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.

This type of hearing loss can make some communications with friends and family very frustrating. You may have trouble only hearing some frequencies, but your family members might assume they need to yell in order for you to hear them at all. In addition, those who have this kind of hearing loss find background sound overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister speaking to you in a restaurant.

We can utilize the hearing test to individualize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then make that frequency louder so you’re able to hear it. Or it can change the frequency through frequency compression to a different frequency that you can hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound easier.

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

If you think you might be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and we can help.

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.