Some amount of hearing loss is expected as people age, but a rapid progression of loss can represent the need for medical intervention. As people mature, they will typically undergo several hearing exams. As a child, you likely took a hearing test or two, and once you reach a certain age, the exams will return. The purpose is to ensure you can hear and that your ears are healthy.
After an exam, your doctor will likely present you with a chart, an audiogram detailing your results. These graphs can be hard to understand if you do not know what you are looking at, but they are crucial to understanding your hearing and potential loss.
What Is an Audiogram?
An audiogram displays the results of a hearing test in a graph. The graph is a visual representation of the individual’s hearing capabilities. The top of the graph represents softer sounds, and the bottom represents louder sounds. From left to right, the chart shows the frequency level.
During an exam, the patient’s responses are recorded on the graph, usually with an “O” for the right ear and an “X” for the left. Other symbols indicate more detail in the chart, but those tend to be more specific to each designer or practitioner; a key will usually appear at the bottom right of the graph page.
Where the marks appear on the graph indicates a patient’s performance. Hearing loss is minimal if a patient’s range is towards the top of the graph; towards the bottom, hearing loss is significant. Therefore, the chart is a tool to help discern the need for hearing aids and further examination; it is also a tool to help patients understand the need for intervention. Ultimately, an audiogram is an assessment tool.
What Does an Audiogram Cover?
The audiogram is a representation of the hearing exam. It covers pitch or frequency, loudness and intensity of sounds, and the degree of hearing loss. Each vertical column indicates the tested frequencies, typically ranging from 125Hz to 8000Hz. The lower frequencies represent the “oo” sounds, like rumbling thunder or bass. The higher frequencies usually represent “S” sounds or whistling.
The loudness and intensity of the sounds are represented in decibels. The chart starts at zero, with every new horizontal row representing 10 decibels. Most charts go up to 120 decibels. The further down the chart a patient registers, the more severe their hearing loss; for example, a patient who registers most sounds between zero and 40 decibels has normal to mild hearing loss.
A common characteristic of audiograms is the downward slant or progression of the results, representing the degree of loss. A patient with normal hearing will have a graph that looks like a mild up and down hill, gently sloping toward the 8000 Hz range but remaining relatively consistent. The more drastic the slope, the more progressive the hearing loss.
A hearing test is a fundamental part of your healthcare, from the time you are young to your senior years. It is crucial you understand the results of these tests. Is it time for your next hearing exam, or do you need help reading your audiogram’s results?
Can You Get Hearing Aids From HEAR Center?
Yes, you can. Your HEAR Center audiologist will use your diagnosis and specific hearing challenges to suggest hearing aid choices suitable for your unique needs. They routinely fit and adjust hearing aids from leading manufacturers to patients of all ages, from infants to adults.
Contact us today to learn more about our services or to make an appointment:
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