It may seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be simple. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can most likely hear some things clearly at a lower volume, but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters just fine at any volume. It will become more apparent why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you learn how to read your hearing test. It’s because there’s more to hearing than just cranking up the volume.
How do I understand the results of my audiogram?
An audiogram is a type of hearing test that hearing professionals employ to ascertain how you hear. It would be great if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but sadly, that isn’t the situation.
Instead, 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.
Decoding the volume section of your hearing test
The volume in Decibels is listed on the left side of the chart (from 0 dB to around 120 dB). The higher the number, the louder the sound must be for you to hear it.
If you’re unable to hear any sound until it reaches around 30 dB then you have mild hearing loss which is a loss of sound between 26 and 45 dB. If hearing begins at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. Hearing loss is severe if your hearing starts at 66-85 dB. If you can’t hear sound until it gets up to 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you’re dealing with profound hearing loss.
Examining frequency on a hearing test
You hear other things besides volume too. You hear sound at different frequencies, commonly called pitches in music. Frequencies allow you to distinguish between types of sounds, and this includes the letters of the alphabet.
Along the bottom of the chart, you’ll usually find frequencies that a human ear can hear, going from a low frequency of 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)
We will test how well you hear frequencies in between and can then plot them on the chart.
So if you’re dealing with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you might need the volume of high frequency sounds to be as high as 60 dB (the volume of somebody talking at an elevated 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 essential
Now that you understand how to read your audiogram, let’s have a 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
- Women and children who tend to have higher-pitched voices
- “F”, “H”, “S”
Certain particular frequencies might be more challenging for someone who has high frequency hearing loss to hear, even within the higher frequency range.
Inside of the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. If the cells that detect a specific frequency become damaged and eventually die, you will lose your ability to hear that frequency at lower volumes. If all of the cells that pick up that frequency are damaged, then you completely lose your ability to hear that frequency regardless of volume.
Communicating with other people can become very aggravating if you’re suffering from this kind of hearing loss. Your family members could think they have to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have difficulty hearing particular frequencies. In addition to that, those who have this kind of hearing impairment find background noise overshadows louder, higher-frequency sounds such as your sister talking to you in a restaurant.
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 requirements once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re having trouble hearing. In modern digital hearing aids, if a frequency goes into the hearing aid’s microphone, the hearing aid instantly knows if you’re able to hear that frequency. The hearing aid can be programmed to boost whatever frequency you’re having difficulty hearing. Or it can make use of its frequency compression feature to alter the frequency to one you can better hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound less difficult.
This creates 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 might be experiencing hearing loss, call us and we can help.