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

Measuring hearing loss is more complex than it may seem at first. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You may confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at whatever volume. It will become more obvious why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to read your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.

How do I read the results of my audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals utilize to determine how you hear. It would be terrific if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that’s not the case.

Many individuals find the graph format challenging at first. But you too can understand a hearing test if you know what you’re looking at.

Decoding the volume section of your audiogram

The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to be able to hear it.

If you’re unable to hear any sound until it reaches about 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of sound between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. Profound hearing loss means that you can’t hear until the volume gets up to 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Reading frequency on a hearing test

You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Frequencies help you differentiate between types of sounds, including the letters of the alphabet.

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

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

So, for illustration, if you have 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 around the volume of an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the chart.

Why measuring both volume and frequency is so essential

Now that you know how to read 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 very common type of loss would make it more difficult to hear or understand:

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

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

Inside of the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and 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 extremely aggravating. You may have difficulty only hearing some frequencies, but your family members may assume they have to yell to be heard at all. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister talking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals 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 program a hearing aid for your specific hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency enters the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid instantly knows whether you can hear that frequency. The hearing aid can be programmed to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can change the frequency by using frequency compression to a different frequency that you can hear. Additionally, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.

This creates a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid user because instead of simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your unique hearing needs.

If you believe you might be experiencing 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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