It might seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can probably hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You may confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at whatever volume. When you figure out how to read your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. It’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.
How do I understand the results of my audiogram?
Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the state of your hearing by making use of this type of hearing test. It would be wonderful if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that’s not the case.
Rather, it’s written on a graph, and that’s why many people find it challenging. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you know what you’re looking at.
Interpreting the volume portion of your audiogram
On the left side of the chart is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to around 120 (thunder). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to be able to hear it.
A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB indicates mild hearing loss. You’re dealing with moderate hearing loss if your hearing starts at 45-65 dB. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing begins at 66-85 dB. If you can’t hear sound until it gets up to 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you’re dealing with profound hearing loss.
Examining frequency on a hearing test
Volume’s not the only thing you hear. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. 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 typically listed on the bottom of the graph.
This test will let us ascertain how well you can hear within a span of frequencies.
So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of somebody 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.
Is it essential to track both frequency and volume?
So in the real world, what could the outcome of this test mean for you? Here are some sounds that would be tougher to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
Some specific frequencies may be harder for somebody with high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Inside of your inner ear there are very small hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. If the cells that detect a certain frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. You will totally 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 very frustrating. Your family members may think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister talking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people who have this type of hearing loss.
We can use the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions
We will be able to custom tune a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency goes into the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid instantly knows whether you’re able to hear that frequency. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can adjust the frequency by using frequency compression to a different frequency you can hear. In addition, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.
This creates a smoother more normal hearing experience for the hearing aid wearer because instead of simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.
Schedule an appointment for a hearing exam today if you think you might be dealing with hearing loss. We can help.