It may seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be simple. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. The majority of letters might sound clear at high or low volumes but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. It will become more obvious why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to interpret your hearing test. That’s because there’s more to hearing than just turning up the volume.
How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?
Hearing professionals will be able to get a read on the condition of your hearing by making use of this type of hearing test. It won’t look as straightforward as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be great if it did!)
Instead, it’s printed on a graph, and that’s why many individuals find it challenging. But if you know what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.
Decoding the volume section of your audiogram
The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). This number will define how loud a sound needs to be for you to be able to hear it. Higher numbers mean that in order for you to hear it, you will need louder sound.
A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB indicates mild hearing loss. You’re dealing with moderate hearing loss if your hearing begins at 45-65 dB. If you start hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you have severe hearing loss. If you are unable to 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.
The frequency section of your hearing test
Volume’s not the only thing you hear. 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 graph, you’ll typically see 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 let us ascertain how well you can hear within a span of frequencies.
So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as loud as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at a raised volume). The chart will plot the volumes that the various frequencies will need to reach before you’re able to hear them.
Why measuring both volume and frequency is so significant
So in real life, what might the results of this test mean for you? Here are some sounds that would be more difficult to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
While somebody with high-frequency hearing loss has more trouble with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies might seem easier to hear than others.
Within the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and have died. You will entirely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the related hair cells.
This kind of hearing loss can make some communications with friends and family really frustrating. Your family members might think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. In addition, those who have this type of hearing impairment find background noise overpowers louder, higher-frequency sounds like your sister talking to you in a restaurant.
We can utilize the hearing test to personalize hearing solutions
We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your particular hearing needs once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re not able to hear. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency goes into the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid automatically knows if you’re able to hear that frequency. It can then make that frequency louder so you can hear it. Or it can use its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can hear better. Additionally, they can improve your ability to process background noise.
This delivers a smoother more normal hearing experience for the hearing aid user because instead of simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.
If you think you might be experiencing hearing loss, contact us and we can help.