What is an audiogram, how does it work, how to read its results, and who is it for? Find out everything you need to know in our latest article!
Whether you've recently had a professional hearing test or you're planning to get one soon, this article is here to help! We'll walk you through what to expect during a hearing test, learn about the audiogram and how it works, and provide a friendly guide on interpreting your hearing test results.
The audiogram is a graphical representation that displays hearing test results, helping you visualize your unique hearing ability.
The audiogram has two axes: frequency (measured in Hertz) and volume (measured in decibels). Your hearing thresholds for each frequency are plotted as symbols on the graph, typically using different colors or shapes to represent each ear.
A hearing test depicts your ability to perceive sounds based on their frequency (high-pitched versus low-pitched) and volume, indicating their loudness.
Understanding the measurement of sound in an audiogram can be simplified by relating it to everyday examples. Here are a few comparisons:
By presenting results for each ear, the audiogram results inform the audiologist about the faintest sound you can detect at specific frequencies. Thus, painting a clear picture of your unique hearing capabilities.
During an audiogram, you will sit in a quiet space and wear headphones connected to an audiometer, a specialized device that generates sounds of various frequencies and volumes. The audiologist or hearing care specialist will also have a control panel to adjust the settings.
The test begins with a series of beeps played at different frequencies in one ear at a time, ranging from low to high. Each frequency corresponds to a specific pitch of sound.
Next, you will raise your hand or press a button when you hear a tone, helping the audiologist determine the softest sound you can hear at each frequency.
After assessing your hearing at different frequencies, the audiometer will present tones at a fixed frequency (usually around 1,000 Hz) and gradually increase their volume. This step helps determine your discomfort or pain threshold, known as the uncomfortable loudness level.
Then, the audiologist records your responses on an audiogram to interpret the results and make recommendations accordingly. Don’t worry; the hearing test is painless and risk-free.
Understanding and interpreting an audiogram is easier than you might think!
An audiogram uses specific symbols to represent various frequencies and volume levels. Sounds fall within different areas of the audiogram chart depending on their frequency and volume.
Let's explore how to decipher these symbols and make sense of your audiogram results.
By examining the placement of symbols and markings on the audiogram, you can better understand your hearing abilities and the extent of any hearing loss you may have. Consult with an audiologist or hearing care professional to accurately interpret your audiogram and discuss suitable treatment options, such as hearing aids or other interventions.
An audiogram can provide valuable insights into your hearing health and overall well-being.
Here are 6 reasons why you should consider getting an audiogram:
Are you preparing for an audiogram test? Here’s what to expect and some of the most common questions answered:
An audiogram hearing test is minimally invasive and painless. The hearing test takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the audiologist will review the results with you.
An audiogram is considered the gold standard in hearing tests and is highly accurate because of the extensive testing and categorizations for hearing loss.
Normal hearing levels are between the frequencies of zero and 20dB.
Mild hearing loss threshold is between 21-40dB. The sound of a whisper is about 30dB, and the sound of a normal conversation is about 60dB, so most people with mild hearing loss need to ask others to repeat themselves often.
Severe hearing loss has a threshold between 71-90dB, making most noise inaudible.
“Speech banana” describes the area where most sounds of average conversational speech occur on this graph. Because the area resembles the shape of a banana, audiologists refer to these sounds as the speech banana.
For example, different speech sounds have different pitches or volumes. Consonant sounds (words with TSBGHXJK etc.) are more high-pitched and low in volume, and vowel sounds (words with EAOUI) are low-pitched and low to medium volume. When you can hear both the vowels and consonants of words, it's easier to follow a conversation. This is especially important to consider in children beginning to develop speech.
Tinnitus is a perception of sound without an external stimulus, often described as ringing, buzzing, or hissing in the ears. This sensation varies from person to person.
During an audiogram, the primary focus is on measuring and evaluating your hearing sensitivity across different frequencies and intensity levels. Tinnitus, however, does not necessarily correlate with specific patterns on an audiogram, as it is not solely related to hearing loss.
However, an audiogram can still provide some insights indirectly related to tinnitus. For example, it can identify if there is any hearing loss that might contribute to the perception of tinnitus. Additionally, specific tests conducted during the audiogram, such as pitch matching and loudness discomfort levels, may help assess tinnitus's characteristics and severity.
Now that you know what to expect during a hearing test, interpreting your hearing test results becomes much easier and less intimidating. Just think of a hearing test as a friendly tool to uncover your hearing abilities, improve your overall hearing health, and enhance your everyday life.