It might seem, at first, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, you can most likely hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. Most letters may sound clear at high or low volumes but others, such as “s” and “b” could get lost. When you learn how to understand your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing seems “inconsistent”. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.
When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher it?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals use to determine how you hear. It would be great if it looked as basic as a scale from one to ten, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many people find the graph format challenging at first. But you too can understand a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.
Reading volume on an audiogram
The volume in Decibels is detailed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound needs to be for you to be able to hear it.
A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB signifies mild hearing loss. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts 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 have profound hearing loss.
Reading frequency on a audiogram
You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly called pitches in music. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are differentiated by frequency or pitch.
Frequencies which a human ear can hear, ranging from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are typically listed along the bottom of the chart.
We will check how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the chart.
So, for illustration, 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 an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the chart.
Is it significant to track both frequency and volume?
Now that you understand how to read your hearing test, let’s have a look at what those results might mean for you in real life. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a quite common type of loss would make it harder to hear or comprehend:
- Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
Some specific frequencies may be more difficult for a person who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Within the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that pick up those frequencies have become damaged and 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.
This type of hearing loss can make some communications with loved ones really aggravating. You may have trouble only hearing specific frequencies, but your family members may assume they need to yell to be heard at all. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people with this kind of hearing loss.
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 needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know exactly what frequencies enter the microphone. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having trouble hearing. Or it can utilize its frequency compression feature to change the frequency to one you can hear better. In addition, they can improve your ability to process background noise.
This delivers a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid wearer because rather than simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and we can help.