It may seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. The majority of letters might sound clear at any volume but others, like “s” and “b” could get lost. It will become more apparent why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to interpret your hearing test. Because merely turning up the volume isn’t enough.
How do I understand the results of my audiogram?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals use to calculate how you hear. It would be wonderful if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but regrettably, that’s not the case.
Many people 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.
Looking at volume on an audiogram
The volume in Decibels is outlined on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). This number will define 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 need louder sound.
If you can’t hear any sound until it reaches around 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of volume between 26 and 45 dB. 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 means you’re dealing with severe hearing loss. 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.
The frequency section of your hearing test
You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at varied frequencies, commonly known as pitches in music. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are distinguished 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 normally listed on the bottom of the chart.
We will test how well you’re able to hear frequencies in between and can then diagram them on the chart.
So if you have hearing loss in the higher wavelengths, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of someone talking at an elevated volume). The volume that the sound must reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the chart.
Is it essential to track both frequency and volume?
So in real life, what could the results of this test mean for you? High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common type of loss would make it more difficult to hear or understand:
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
- “F”, “H”, “S”
Certain specific frequencies may be more challenging for a person who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Inside of the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) vibrate in response to sound waves. If the cells that pick up a certain frequency become damaged and ultimately die, you lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that detect that frequency are damaged, then you completely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.
Communicating with other people can become really frustrating if you’re suffering from this type of hearing loss. Your family members may think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular wavelengths. And higher frequency sounds, such as your sister talking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for people with this type of hearing loss.
Hearing solutions can be individualized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test
We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing requirements once we’re able to comprehend 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 can hear that frequency. It can then make that frequency louder so you can hear it. Or it can change the frequency by using frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. They also have features that can make processing background sound simpler.
This delivers a smoother more natural hearing experience for the hearing aid wearer because rather than just making everything louder, it’s meeting your personal hearing needs.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, call us and we can help.