Reading an audiogram can seem pretty complex, but once you know the basics it’s really pretty simple.
First of all, you may be wondering...what is an audiogram? An audiogram is a graph that shows information about a person’s hearing abilities. An Audiogram is a hearing test that measures the softest sound you can hear. The softest level at which you can hear a sound is called the threshold.
Let’s take a look at the various parts of the audiogram. First let’s look at it from top to bottom. The audiogram measures sound intensity, or loudness, in decibels which are listed from 0 decibels at the top to 120 decibels at the bottom. Running from left to right is frequency, or pitch, which is measured in hertz. The frequency starts on the left side with 125 hertz and goes up to 8000 hertz on the right side. This is just like a piano keyboard that has the lowest frequencies on the left and the highest frequencies on the right.
The "PITCH" on a piano keyboard has the lowest frequencies on the left and the highest frequencies on the right.
On a typical audiogram you will also see two lines: One red and one blue. The red line represents the hearing in your right ear and the blue line represents your left ear.
If your audiogram does not have colors, then the line with the X’s represent your left ear and the line with the "O's" or circles represent your right ear.
Let’s take a moment to focus on the sound frequency which runs from top to bottom and is measured in decibels. If your hearing is normal, you should see an X or a circle that falls into the 0-20 decibel range for each frequency. That means you can understand speech in a noisy environment and no amplification or hearing aids are needed.
If you have mild hearing loss you will see the X or circle in the 20-40 decibel range. Mild hearing loss means you may be having difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. It may also mean that you require a higher volume level when watching the television or listening to the stereo. Because of this, family members are often the first to notice. Adults will benefit from In-the-Ear or Mini-Behind the Ear hearing aids.
Moderate hearing loss will be marked in the 40-70 decibel range. With moderate hearing loss you will frequently have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments including the telephone, television and listening to speakers at public gatherings. You may find that you are regularly asking people to repeat themselves and you get frustrated because you are missing what they are saying. People may also tell you that you speak too loudly in conversations. Adults will see the greatest benefit from Mini-Behind the Ear hearing aids.
If you have severe hearing loss, the X or circle will fall in the 70-90 decibel range. This means you are having significant difficulty hearing during most types of communication and you may start avoiding noisy places where you know you will miss much of the conversation. You still may have communications difficulties with Behind the Ear hearing aids.
And if your hearing loss is profound, you will see the mark in the 90-120 decibel range. At this level you are having major communication problems in all situations. Profound hearing loss typically requires visual assistance while communicating, such as lip-reading or sign language. You will still have communication difficulties with hearing aids but fullsize, super-powerful, behind the ear hearing aids will be very useful for obtaining cues and environmental sounds.
Now let’s look at the frequency which runs from left to right. Vowels such as A, E, I, O and U are the lowest pitch and fall towards the left side of the hearing range. Consonants, such as S, T, F and Sh are higher pitched and fall towards the right side of the hearing range. Often times these higher frequencies are also associated with women’s voices.
This section of the audiogram is commonly referred to as the speech zone because most human voices reside within this range of frequency and volume.
And now that we know what the various parts of the audiogram are, let’s take a look at a few examples...
In our first example (above), you will note that this person has hearing that falls into the normal range up to about 1500 hertz. At 2000 hertz their hearing starts to make its way into the mild hearing loss category, more so for the left ear. At 4000 hertz there is a significant difference and the hearing is now in the moderate hearing loss category. At 8000 hertz this person's hearing falls into the severe hearing loss category.
In this next example the person's hearing falls regularly within the mild hearing loss category, except at 4000 hertz where it drops slightly into the moderate hearing loss area.
Congratulations! You now know how to read an audiogram. Thanks for watching and have a great day!