An audiogram shows the results of your hearing test and is a visual representation of your hearing loss. The better you can read an audiogram, the more you’ll understand the limits of your hearing and be able to seek proper treatment. Your audiologist will walk you through your audiogram, but this guide will help you follow along more easily.
Understanding Your Hearing Threshold
The purpose of a hearing test is to measure your hearing ability across a range of common speech frequencies. In other words, it determines the quietest volume level of various pitches that you can hear at least 50 percent of the time.
Remember that hearing tests are quantitative rather than qualitative, meaning they utilize a numerical system to measure hearing ability in a quiet room, not describe the quality of your hearing in everyday environments.
What’s on the Axes
The horizontal axis (x-axis) represents frequency or pitch from lowest to highest. The range is typically 250 Hz to 8000 Hz, which is where most speech falls. Think of the x-axis like keys on a piano, with each sound becoming higher as you move from left to right.
The vertical axis (y-axis) represents intensity or volume of a sound with low levels on top and high levels at the bottom. The number at the top of the chart may be labeled -10 or 0, but this does not describe the absence of sound; 0 dB represents the softest sound a person with normal hearing can detect – about the level of someone breathing.
What the Symbols Mean
You will likely undergo multiple types of hearing test – commonly, air conduction and bone conduction tests – and each type has its own set of symbols.
Air conduction results are marked with a red “O” for the right ear and a blue “X” for the left ear. Bone conduction testing is marked with a “[“ or “<” symbol.
Across all audiograms, responses from the left ear are represented in blue and responses from the right ear are represented in red. Once all the symbols are plotted on the graph, they are connected with color-coordinated lines.
If the lines overlap, your hearing loss is symmetrical (the same in both ears). If they do not overlap, your hearing loss is asymmetrical, meaning each ear has a different threshold.
What Does Normal Look Like?
Most audiograms have specified “zones” for different degrees of hearing loss, with normal hearing ability near the top and profound hearing loss toward the bottom. Whichever zone your lines fall in is what degree of hearing loss you have. Normal hearing is the ability to hear sounds between 0 and 25 dB across the entire frequency range.
If you don’t understand your audiogram, talk to your audiologist. They will explain what it means for you and what treatment is most appropriate.
To schedule an appointment, call a local auditory specialist at Elk Grove Hearing Care today.