You finally decided to take a hearing test.
You took the test.
Got the results.
But, now you have these alien lines in front of you. What shall you do?
You are not the only person dealing with hearing loss. And certainly, you are not the only one unable to decipher an audiogram. It seems quite complicated, we know.
Audiogram is the graph you have in front of you. Hearing specialists use it to record your test responses. It is also crucial to help you decide what hearing aid is right for you.
Here’s a simple guide on how to understand your audiogram results in less than a minute:
The horizontal lines are always arranged from low to high and show the intensity of test frequencies. Revealing your ability to hear low (125–500 Hz), mid (750–2000 Hz), or high (3000–8000 Hz) pitch sounds.
On the other hand, the vertical lines represent the intensity of the sounds. Hearing level (HL) in decibels (dB) refers to how soft or how loud sounds are to a person. Zero (0) dB is considered to be the optimum level for hearing.
Sometimes the audiogram has brackets “[” and “]” representing scores based on bone conduction tests.
Interpreting the Audiogram
When interpreting an audiogram it is crucial to be honest with yourself. A lot of people only look at the good news rather than understanding the whole story. Don’t misinterpret the results as they make a difference in your life.
Use the following characteristics of the audiogram to become an expert interpreter:
- How audiologists play tic-tac-toe… (Xs and Os)
Every audiogram consists of X and O symbols charted on a graph. Xs represent left ear results, whilst Os represent right ear results. The scores are then compared to results obtained from people with normal hearing.
Nowadays, it is also common to see audiograms that instead of an X use a little square. Don’t get confused!
The point of the audiogram is to determine where your ability to hear falls on the typical range of auditory capabilities.
In most cases, the “normal” range will be from zero to twenty decibels on the vertical axis. Results falling outside of this range could be a sign that you are suffering from some degree of impairment. If your results are outside of this normal range and the doctor tells you there is nothing to worry about, you may want to question him further about your observations. There could be a reason for the discrepancy.
- What type of hearing loss do you have?
- Conductive — Normal hearing for bone conduction scores ([ & ]), and showing a hearing loss for Air Conduction scores (X & O)
- Sensorineural — Equal hearing loss for both air and bone conduction
- Mixed — Hearing loss for bone conduction, and an even greater hearing loss for air conduction
- Severity of loss
The lower the scores fall on the Audiogram, the more severe the hearing loss.
- Flat loss — Hearing loss is relatively even across all frequencies. Common for conductive hearing losses.
- Sloping loss — Hearing loss is increasing at higher frequencies. The most common age or noise damage related to hearing loss.
- Less common audiogram shapes: reverse slopes, cookie bites, and corner audiogram.
- About the damage…
- Monaural loss: Loss only in one ear
- Binaural loss: Loss in both ears
- Symmetrical: Hearing is relatively even in both ears
- Asymmetrical: Hearing is significantly worse in one ear compared to the other
- The word recognition score
This is located in a box next to the audiogram graph. It represents your ability to understand speech.
Low sound frequencies (125 Hz — 1000 Hz) are responsible for a person’s interpretation of the volume of speech.
In contrast, high frequencies are responsible for the clarity of how we interpret speech. High frequency in speech is found in words containing sounds like “f”, “ph”, “th”, “s” and “t”. These sounds are difficult to hear if you have a high frequency loss. Most people with high frequency losses state the same: “My hearing is good, people just sound like they are mumbling.”
Consult your doctor about your audiogram results. Don’t get worked up about your observations, they may be wrong in the end because you are not a professional (doctors constantly complain about this). It is also why many hospitals and clinics are wary about giving patients access to test results without having a doctor explain them first.
Finally, keep in mind that your ear muscles atrophy the longer you go without hearing aids. And after some time, the damage becomes irreversible if you don’t take action.
It’s time to take action now!