If you or your loved one has just had a hearing test performed by a hearing care professional (or if you are planning to have one in the near future), you will receive the results as an <em>audiogram</em>. An audiogram is a graph that expresses your hearing capabilities as lines and symbols. Once you learn how to follow the graph, you will have a much better understanding of your hearing loss. Learning about the specific sounds that are not audible will help you and your hearing care provider develop an action plan to help you get back to enjoying the sounds of everyday life.
A hearing test measures your hearing sensitivity in each ear. The audiogram plots your <em>hearing thresholds </em>in each ear at different frequencies in a quiet listening environment. A hearing threshold is defined as the softest sound you can detect at least 50 percent of the time.
On the example audiogram, frequency in Hertz (Hz) is shown at the top of the graph, left to right, from low- to high-pitch sounds. Your hearing threshold level in decibels (dB) is shown on the left, from top to bottom. Each symbol on the chart represents your threshold for a given frequency. The lower the symbol on the graph, the greater your hearing loss at that frequency. Because each ear is tested independently, the red “O” symbol represents the right ear and the blue “X” symbol represents the left ear.
Hearing loss is classified as mild, moderate, moderate-to-severe, severe, or profound. The audiogram shows a mild-to-severe, high- frequency hearing loss from 2000-8000 Hz in both ears, because the lines for each ear dip below the normal threshold as marked on the right side of the graph. In this example, the sounds of birds chirping, people whispering, women and children’s voices, and other high-pitched sounds will be difficult to hear. Using your personal audiogram, we can explain your specific hearing loss (including additional symbols not described here) and if appropriate, recommend a hearing aid that can be customized to meet your needs.
If you still have questions or concerns, we’ll be happy to explain it further. If you haven’t been tested yet and think you have hearing loss, don’t wait. Once you understand your hearing loss and all the treatments available, you can start enjoying all the sounds and conversations you’ve been missing.