Louisville Family Audiology - Louisville, KY

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. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. Most 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. Because simply turning up the volume isn’t enough.

How do I read the results of my audiogram?

Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the condition of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It would be wonderful if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that isn’t the case.

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

Interpreting the volume section of your audiogram

Along the left side of the graph is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to around 120 (thunder). This number will determine how loud a sound has 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 can’t hear any sound until it reaches about 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of sound between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. 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.

The frequency portion of your audiogram

Volume isn’t the only thing you hear. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Frequencies allow you to distinguish between types of sounds, and this includes the letters of the alphabet.

Frequencies that a human ear can hear, ranging from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are generally listed on the lower section of the chart.

This test will let us ascertain how well you can hear within a span of frequencies.

So, for example, if you have high-frequency hearing loss, in order for you to hear a high-frequency sound it may have to be at least 60 dB (which is around the volume of an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The volume that the sound must reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the chart.

Is it important to measure both frequency and volume?

So in real life, what might the outcome of this test mean for you? Here are a few sounds that would be tougher to hear if you have the very common form of high frequency hearing loss:

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

While someone 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 tiny hair-like nerve cells that shake with sounds. If the cells that detect a certain frequency become damaged and eventually die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. You will completely 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 loved ones extremely aggravating. Your family members might think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people with this type of hearing loss.

We can use the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your particular hearing requirements 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 fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can hear better. They also have functions that can make processing background sound less difficult.

Modern hearing aids are programmed to target your particular hearing needs 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.
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