It might seem, at first, like measuring hearing loss would be simple. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at any volume. It will become more apparent why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to read your hearing test. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.
When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher 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 people find the graph format confusing at first. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.
Interpreting the volume portion of your hearing test
The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to hear it.
If you can’t hear any sound until it is about 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing begins at 66-85 dB. If you can’t hear sound until it reaches 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you’re dealing with profound hearing loss.
The frequency section of your hearing test
You hear other things besides volume also. You can also hear a range of frequencies or pitches of sound. Frequencies help you differentiate between types of sounds, and this includes the letters of the alphabet.
On the lower section of the chart, you’ll usually find frequencies that a human ear can detect, starting from a low frequency of 125 (deeper than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)
We will check how well you’re able to 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 must reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the chart.
Why measuring both volume and frequency is so significant
Now that you understand how to read your hearing test, let’s look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a quite common form of loss would make it harder to hear or comprehend:
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
While a person with high-frequency hearing loss has more trouble with high-frequency sounds, certain frequencies may seem easier to hear than others.
Inside of your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that move with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and have died. If all of the cells that pick up that frequency are damaged, then you totally lose your ability to hear that frequency even at higher volumes.
Interacting with other people can become extremely aggravating if you’re suffering from this type of hearing loss. You may have trouble only hearing specific frequencies, but your family members might think they have to yell in order for you to hear them at all. In addition, those with this kind of hearing loss find background sound overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds like 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 tune a hearing aid for your particular hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Modern hearing aids have the ability to recognize exactly what frequencies enter the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you can hear it. Or it can alter the frequency through frequency compression to another frequency that you can hear. In addition, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.
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 hearing experience.
If you believe you might be dealing with hearing loss, call us and we can help.