How to Interpret Your Hearing Test or Audiogram

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. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You might confuse particular letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at whatever volume. It will become more evident why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to read your hearing test. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

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 wonderful if it did!)

Many individuals find the graph format confusing at first. But if you are aware of what you’re looking at, you too can interpret the results of your audiogram.

Interpreting the volume portion of your hearing test

On the left side of the graph is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to around 120 (thunder). This number will determine how loud a sound has to be for you to be capable of hearing it. Higher numbers signify that in order for you to hear it, you will require louder sound.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB signifies mild hearing loss. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. 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 can’t hear until the volume reaches 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.

Examining frequency on a hearing test

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

On the bottom of the chart, you’ll usually find frequencies that a human ear can detect, going from a low frequency of 125 (deeper than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)

This test will allow us to determine how well you can hear within a span of frequencies.

So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at a raised volume). The graph will plot the volumes that the different frequencies will need to reach before you can hear them.

Is it important to measure both frequency and volume?

Now that you know how to read your audiogram, let’s have a look at what those results may mean for you in real life. 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”
  • Birds
  • Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
  • Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
  • Music

Some particular frequencies may be more difficult for somebody with high frequency hearing loss to hear, even in the higher frequency range.

Within the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. 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 entirely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.

This type of hearing loss can make some communications with loved ones extremely aggravating. You may have trouble only hearing some frequencies, but your family members may assume they have to yell to be heard at all. On top of that, those who have this kind of hearing loss find background sound overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister speaking to you in a restaurant.

We can use the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can adjust the frequency through frequency compression to another frequency that you can hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound easier.

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

If you believe you might be experiencing hearing loss, call us and we can help.

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.