When you go in for a hearing test, your results are recorded in an audiogram to help you understand the results and measure the extent of your hearing loss. Basically, your audiogram, or hearing test results are recorded as a graph that indicates various frequencies on which the average person can hear, and where you lie on that scale. Your audiogram will be able to indicate what specific pitches or frequencies you have difficulty with and what range of sound levels you can hear properly.
The best way to successfully decipher your audiogram is with the help of your audiologist who can help you interpret your test results. The audiogram may appear to be rather complicated initially, but with the help of these trained professionals you will gain the guidance you need to interpret your test results as well as determine what type of hearing devices would be more suitable for your specific needs. Every individual is unique and thus small deviations in hearing abilities are normal, although you may want to pay close attention in case your audiogram indicates large deviations, which may be indicative of hearing loss.
Specialized testing equipment known as the audiometer is used to create your audiogram. This instrument enables a variety of frequencies to be depicted to you through the use of standardized headphones.
Audiograms have a general template of what components they wish to explore. Mostly, the measured aspects include intensity, frequency, and left and right ear markers. Let us explore each of these components to help you gain a better understanding of them.
The intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB), which basically indicates how loud a particular sound is. This information is generally read using horizontal lines from the top of the audiogram right to the bottom, where each line indicates a specific intensity which ranges from 0dB (the softest sound) to 120dB (which is the loudest sound that a person can hear). Each mark that is noted on your audiogram indicates the softest sound you were able to hear successfully in that specific decibel.
The frequency of a sound is measured in Hertz(Hz) and is also called the pitch. This information is depicted in vertical lines and can be read from the left to the right of your test results. Every individual line indicates a specific frequency between the range of 250Hz (which is very low) to 8000Hz (which is very high).
Your test results also indicate different symbols and colors to depict the markers for both your ears. The color red represents the right ear while the color blue represents the left ear, while the symbols may differ based on whether you were wearing headphones during the test or whether you were tested using an air or bone conduction hearing test. The most common symbols used in audiograms are X, S, >, ] or shapes such as a triangle, a square or a circle.
Once your test is conducted, your hearing specialist will interpret your audiogram by observing the softest sound that you were able to hear at various frequencies. The results are broken down according to decibels, which range from normal hearing to profound hearing impairment. The ranges of hearing loss are depicted below:
- Normal: 0dB-20dB
- Mild hearing loss: 21dB-40dB
- Moderate hearing loss: 41dB-55dB
- Moderately severe hearing loss: 56dB-70dB
- Severe hearing loss: 71dB-90dB
- Profound hearing loss: 91dB and above
In case of any confusion in your audiogram, consult your hearing specialist so that you can obtain correct information and choose the appropriate hearing aid that is best suited for your specific needs.