Determining hearing loss is more complex than it may seem at first. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can most likely 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 learn how to read your hearing test it becomes more obvious why your hearing is “inconsistent”. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.
When I get my audiogram, how do I interpret it?
Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the state of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It won’t look as straightforward as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it did!)
Many individuals find the graph format complicated at first. But you too can understand a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.
Reading volume on a hearing test
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 needs to be for you to hear it.
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 begins at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you have severe hearing loss. 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.
Reading frequency on a audiogram
You hear other things besides volume also. You can also hear different frequencies or pitches of sound. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are differentiated by frequency or pitch.
On the lower section of the chart, you’ll typically see frequencies that a human ear can hear, going from a low frequency of 125 (deeper than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)
We will test how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the graph.
So, for example, if you’re dealing with 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 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 essential to measure both frequency and volume?
Now that you understand how to interpret your audiogram, let’s look at what those results might mean for you in the real world. Here are a few sounds that would be more difficult to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
Some particular frequencies may be more challenging for somebody who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Inside of your inner ear you have tiny hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. If the cells that pick up a specific frequency become damaged and eventually die, you lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that detect that frequency are damaged, then you completely 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. Your family members might think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular frequencies. In addition, those who have this kind of hearing loss find background sound overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.
Hearing solutions can be individualized by a hearing professional by using a hearing test
We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize precisely what frequencies enter the microphone. It can then make that frequency louder so you can hear it. Or it can change the frequency through frequency compression to another frequency that you can hear. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.
Modern hearing aids are fine tuned to target your specific hearing requirements rather than just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother hearing experience.
If you believe you might be dealing with hearing loss, call us and we can help.