Determining hearing loss is more technical than it might at first seem. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. The majority of letters might sound clear at any volume but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. When you learn how to interpret your hearing test it becomes more obvious why your hearing is “inconsistent”. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.
When I get my audiogram, how do I interpret it?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals utilize to calculate how you hear. It would be wonderful if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that isn’t the situation.
Many people find the graph format challenging at first. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.
Reading volume on a hearing test
Along the left side of the graph is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to about 120 (thunder). 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 indicates mild hearing loss. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you have severe hearing loss. 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.
Examining frequency on a hearing test
You hear other things besides volume too. You can also hear different frequencies or pitches of sound. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are distinguished by frequency or pitch.
Frequencies which a human ear can hear, from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are generally listed along the bottom of the chart.
We will check how well you hear frequencies in between and can then plot them on the graph.
So, for instance, 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 about the volume of a raised, 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.
Is it important to measure both frequency and volume?
Now that you understand how to interpret your audiogram, let’s take a look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. Here are some sounds that would be harder to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
While someone with 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 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 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.
Communicating with others can become very aggravating if you’re dealing with this kind of hearing loss. Your family members could think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular wavelengths. In addition to that, those with this kind of hearing impairment find background sound overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.
Hearing solutions can be personalized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test
When we are able to recognize which frequencies you don’t hear well or at all, we can program a hearing aid to meet each ear’s unique hearing profile. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency enters the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid immediately knows if you’re able to hear that frequency. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you can hear it. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can better hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.
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 hearing experience.
If you believe you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and we can help.