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Understanding Your Audiogram

woman getting her hearing tested

Have you recently had your first appointment with an audiologist after you suspected that you were suffering from hearing loss? If so, then you will have been provided with a hearing test. A hearing test doesn’t just identify whether you are experiencing hearing loss. It explores the type of hearing loss that you have and this will lead to treatment options. Part of your hearing test will include an audiogram. 

What is an audiogram?

This is a graph that highlights the softest sounds that you will be able to hear at different frequencies and pitches

If you have asymmetrical hearing loss, then your ability to hear from each ear will be significantly different. For this reason, each ear has its own line on the graph. If the lines are different then you can immediately be diagnosed with asymmetrical hearing loss. This will also show the different levels of hearing loss for each ear. 

Typically, you will be experiencing symmetrical hearing loss. This is particularly true if the hearing loss is age related. It will be shown by both lines looking more or less the same though potentially with slight or minor differences. 

Low or high frequency?

The audiogram will also demonstrate whether you have low or high-frequency hearing loss. Frequency is how high or low a sound is. This is measured on top of your hearing test. 

Frequency is measured on a horizontal level on the graph. Read the graph from left to right and you might find you have high-frequency loss. If that’s the case then you might struggle to hear high pitched sounds like females and potentially children. 

Alternatively, you could also have low-frequency hearing loss. This means that lower pitches are a great deal more difficult to hear such as deeper voices. Your audiologist will be able to explain the vital details here. 

Determining your level of hearing loss

Your level of hearing loss will be measured in decibels. This is measured vertically starting on the left side. Reading from left to right, if the last O is at 68 dB, this means that you won’t be able to hear anything underneath this. The higher this is, the more severe hearing loss will be. 

Again, your audiologist will explain the key findings here as well as the type of sounds that you may not be able to hear. If you had severe hearing loss, you would only be able to hear incredibly loud noises clearly. This would include sounds like a truck on the street. 

Work recognition

This is the final part of your hearing test. It determines your comprehension of particular words. It’s worth noting that this is completed by a separate part of your brain compared with hearing. As such, it can be unrelated and thus may not improve based on the level of treatment that you receive. 

There is a threshold where an audiologist will not recommend hearing aids here. Typically, this is anything below 50% comprehension. However, some audiologists have a higher threshold and others favor a lower one. Do be aware that hearing comprehension can grow worse if you don’t get hearing aids for a long time. After a while, the muscle required for comprehension will no longer function. At this stage, there is no way to fix or reverse the damage.

This is one of the reasons why it is important to seek a hearing test as soon as you notice an issue with your hearing. You should not leave a problem like this to linger for too long. This will weaken your chances that the treatment provided will work. 

What happens next?

Once you have had your hearing test, your audiologist will show you the audiogram and tell you what the results mean. As such, they will explain the frequency, whether it is symmetrical and whether you have significant issues with word recognition. Based on this they will then recommend a treatment option. This will usually involve some form of hearing aids. Be aware that there are a variety of different types of hearing aids that may be suitable for your needs. It’s important to select the right option and ensure that you get the best choice. 

Again, your audiologist will help you with this decision and point you in the right direction. 

If you are interested in learning more about what you can expect from your appointment with an audiologist and your hearing test, please contact us at 303-534-0163. Here you can learn more about The Hearing and Tinnitus Center where you will be able to receive expert support.