It might seem, initially, like measuring hearing loss would be easy. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, you can probably hear certain things clearly at a lower volume, 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 evident why you notice inconsistencies with your hearing when you figure out 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 utilize to determine how you hear. It would be terrific if it looked as simple as a scale from one to ten, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Many people find the graph format complicated at first. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you know what you’re looking at.
Decoding the volume section of your hearing test
Along the left side of the graph is the volume in Decibels (dB) from 0 (silent) to around 120 (thunder). This number will specify how loud a sound has 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 have moderate hearing loss if your hearing begins at 45-65 dB. 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’re dealing with profound hearing loss.
The frequency portion of your hearing test
You hear other things besides volume also. You can also hear a range of frequencies or pitches of sound. Frequencies allow you to distinguish between types of sounds, including the letters of the alphabet.
On the lower section of the graph, you’ll typically find frequencies that a human ear can detect, starting from a low frequency of 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to a high frequency of 8000 (higher than a cricket)
This test will allow us to ascertain how well you can hear within a span of wavelengths.
So if you’re dealing with 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 somebody talking at an elevated volume). The volume that the sound needs to reach for you to hear each frequency varies and will be plotted on the chart.
Why tracking both volume and frequency is so significant
So in real life, what might the results of this test mean for you? Here are a few sounds that would be harder to hear if you have the very prevalent form of high frequency hearing loss:
- Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have
- “F”, “H”, “S”
- Beeps, dings, and timers
- Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
While someone with high-frequency hearing loss has more trouble with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies may seem easier to hear than others.
Inside of your inner ear there are tiny hair-like nerve cells that vibrate along with sounds. You lose the ability to hear in whatever frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and have died. You will completely 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 extremely aggravating. You may have trouble only hearing specific frequencies, but your family members might assume they need to yell in order for you to hear them at all. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals with this type of hearing loss.
Hearing solutions can be personalized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test
We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your particular hearing needs once we’re able to comprehend which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Modern hearing aids have the ability to know precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you can hear it. Or it can make use of its frequency compression feature to adjust the frequency to one you can better hear. They also have functions that can make processing background sound less difficult.
Modern hearing aids are programmed to target your specific hearing requirements instead of just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother listening experience.
If you believe you might be dealing with hearing loss, call us and we can help.