Determining hearing loss is more technical than it may at first seem. You can most likely hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at whatever volume. It will become more apparent why you have inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out how to interpret your hearing test. Because simply turning up the volume isn’t enough.
When I get my audiogram, how do I decipher it?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals utilize to determine how you hear. It won’t look as basic as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did!)
Rather, it’s printed on a graph, and that’s why many individuals find it challenging. But if you understand what you’re looking at, you too can understand the results of your audiogram.
Examining volume on a hearing test
The volume in Decibels is outlined on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to be able to hear it.
If you can’t hear any sound until it reaches around 30 dB then you’re dealing with mild hearing loss which is a loss of sound between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you’re dealing with moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. Profound hearing loss means that you can’t hear until the volume gets up to 90 dB or more, which is louder than a lawnmower.
The frequency portion of your audiogram
You hear other things besides volume too. 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 bottom of the graph, you’ll generally 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)
We will test how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then plot them on the graph.
So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you may need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at a raised volume). The volume that the sound must reach for you to hear specific frequencies varies and will be plotted on the chart.
Why tracking both volume and frequency is so important
Now that you understand how to interpret your audiogram, let’s look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common type of loss would make it harder to hear or comprehend:
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
Certain specific frequencies may be more difficult for someone with high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Within the inner ear little stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. If the cells that pick up a certain frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. You will completely lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.
This kind of hearing loss can make some communications with loved ones very aggravating. Your family members might think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing certain frequencies. In addition to that, those with this type of hearing loss find background noise 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 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 having trouble hearing. Contemporary hearing aids have the ability to recognize precisely what frequencies enter the microphone. The hearing aid can be fine tuned to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can make use of its frequency compression feature to change the frequency to one you can hear better. In addition, they can enhance your ability to process background noise.
This delivers a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid user because instead of simply making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.
Schedule an appointment for a hearing test right away if you think you might be dealing with hearing loss. We can help.