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

Determining hearing loss is more complex than it might seem at first. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. The majority of letters might sound clear at high or low volumes but others, such as “s” and “b” may get lost. It will become more obvious why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to interpret your hearing test. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.

When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher it?

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

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

Reading volume on a hearing test

The volume in Decibels is detailed on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). 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 points to mild hearing loss. You have moderate hearing loss if your hearing starts at 45-65 dB. If you start hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it means you’re dealing with 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.

Reading frequency on a hearing test

Volume isn’t the only thing you hear. You can also hear different frequencies or pitches of sound. Frequencies help you distinguish between types of sounds, including the letters of the alphabet.

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

This test will let us ascertain how well you can hear within a range of wavelengths.

So, for example, if you’re dealing with 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 graph.

Is it important to track both frequency and volume?

So in the real world, what might the results 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:

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

Some specific frequencies may be harder for somebody who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even in the higher frequency range.

Inside of the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. If the cells that pick up a specific frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that detect that frequency are damaged, then you totally lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.

Interacting with other people can become really aggravating if you’re dealing with this type of hearing loss. You may have trouble only hearing certain frequencies, but your family members may think they have to yell to be heard at all. On top of that, those who have this type of hearing loss find background noise overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.

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 particular hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. In contemporary 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 difficulty hearing. Or it can change the frequency by using frequency compression to a different frequency that you can hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound less difficult.

Modern hearing aids are programmed to target your particular hearing requirements rather than just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother listening experience.

Schedule an appointment for a hearing test today if you think you may be dealing with hearing loss. 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.