Not all people who suffer from hearing loss have the same type of loss. Some people can hear low-pitched sounds just fine, but have trouble with high-pitched ones. Others can hear everything, except when they are in situations with low-pitched background noise, like a car engine or a low rumble of background conversation. When you go in for a hearing test, the audiologist will provide you with an audiogram. This is a graph that indicates how loud sounds must be for you to hear them.
Reading an Audiogram
An audiogram displays information visually along two axes, like the graphs you may remember from high school algebra. Different frequencies of sound are along the horizontal axis, with lower frequencies on the left and higher frequencies on the right. Different volumes of sound are along the vertical axis, with lower volumes at the top and higher volumes at the bottom. Frequencies are measured in Hertz and volumes are measured in decibels.
Your results will be marked on the audiogram with a series of X’s and O’s, with X’s for your left ear and O’s for your right ear. Based on your hearing test, the audiogram will mark the lowest volume at which you could hear sounds at that frequency at least 50% of the time. This is the threshold at which you are considered to have heard the sound. If your results show that sounds must be at least 25 decibels for you to hear them, then you are considered to have at least mild hearing loss.
Purposes of an Audiogram
The results shown on your audiogram help you and your audiologist understand what type of hearing loss you have, if any. Based on the results, you may decide that you need assistive devices. Many people opt for hearing aids, but if you have mild hearing loss, you may choose to get a device that only amplifies some types of sounds, like phones and televisions, to help you in those situations.
Audiologists use your audiogram to calibrate your hearing aids for your unique needs. Because hearing aids can amplify sound at some frequencies more than at other frequencies, your audiologist will set your hearing aids so you hear sounds at all frequencies at approximately the same volume.
This helps you pick up sounds around you at normal levels and assist in understanding speech. Getting a hearing test and seeing the results on an audiogram are the first step in understanding your hearing loss. Visit an audiologist today to get an audiogram and see how it can help you hear more clearly.
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