Determining hearing loss is more complex than it might seem at first. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at any volume. It will become more evident why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to read your hearing test. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply cranking up the volume.
How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals use to ascertain how you hear. It won’t look as straightforward as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it did!)
Instead, it’s printed on a graph, which is why many find it confusing. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.
Reading volume on an audiogram
The volume in Decibels is indexed on the left side of the graph (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 mean that in order for you to hear it, you will need louder sound.
A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB points to mild hearing loss. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you have 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 reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.
The frequency section of your hearing test
You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Frequencies help you 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 bottom of the graph.
We will test how well you hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the graph.
So, for example, 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 about the volume of an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The chart will plot the volumes that the different frequencies will need to reach before you’re able to hear them.
Is it important to measure both frequency and volume?
So in the real world, what might the outcome of this test mean for you? High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common type of loss would make it harder to hear or comprehend:
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
While somebody who has high-frequency hearing loss has more difficulty with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies may seem easier to hear than others.
Inside of your inner ear you have 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 pick up those frequencies have become damaged and died. You will entirely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.
Communicating with other people can become extremely frustrating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. Your family members may think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals with this kind of hearing loss.
Hearing solutions can be individualized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test
We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing needs once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize exactly what frequencies enter the microphone. The hearing aid can be programmed to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can alter the frequency by using 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 specific hearing needs instead of just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother listening experience.
If you believe you might be dealing with hearing loss, contact us and we can help.