After you have a hearing test at a hearing center, the audiologist will give you an audiogram. An audiogram is a chart giving you a comprehensive report of your hearing ability. Usually, the audiologist would explain the audiogram to you after conducting the hearing performance test. But, I always forget what the audiologist have said. It would be frustrating that even if you have an audiogram on your hand, but you do not how to read it. What should I do? You can visit the hearing center again and ask the specialist for help. It sounds time-consuming. Or, you can learn how to read an audiogram here.
An audiogram is very useful. It helps you to determine if you have hearing loss. Also, it records your hearing performance over a long time so that you can compare your present result with the previous one. So, let’s start learning to read an audiogram.
The vertical axis is the sound volume or intensity measured in decibels (dB).
The lower the sound volume, the louder the sound is. Do you notice the 0 dB at the top of the vertical axis? It does not mean you are not able to hear. Do not be confused by the “0”. The 0 dB is the softest sound that a person is normally able to hear at a particular frequency.
The horizontal axis is the sound frequency or pitch measured in Hertz (Hz).
The value of sound frequency increases along the horizontal axis. The higher the sound frequency, the higher pitch the sound is. It is similar to a piano. When you hit the left side of the piano keyboard, it gives a low pitch sound. When you hit the right side, a high pitch sound is given instead. The frequencies of our speech fall into the 250-6000 Hz range. For the vowel sounds, for example, “a”, “e”, “I”, “o”, “u”, they are low-frequency sound. For the consonant sounds like “s”, “ch”, and “th” are high-frequency sounds.
On the audiogram, you can see there are some symbols and lines. You may ask what they are. The Red Circles are right ear while the blue cross is for the left. Your hearing threshold is indicated by the resulting red and blue lines.
Now, you know the meanings of the vertical axis, the horizontal axis and the symbols and lines. You can now identify your hearing loss level.
First, I want to introduce you the concept of degree of hearing loss.
|Degree of hearing loss||Sound volume/ intensity range (dB)||Description|
|Mild||20-40||Unable to hear soft sounds. Can hear a normal conversation in a quiet room but has difficulty in a noisy environment. Cannot hear whispered conversation or speech from a distance.|
|Moderate||40-70||Has difficulty hearing a normal conversation in a quiet room. Must lip-read or use amplification to understand most words.|
|Serve||70-90||Cannot hear a conversation unless the speaker speaks loudly near the ear.|
|Profound||90+||Cannot understand speech even if the speaker shouts. Can only hear very loud sounds such as a motorcycle engine, if at all.|
Use my attached audiogram (it is an example only!). Since at high frequency, the lowest circle is located at 60 dB which is in the range of moderate hearing loss. Thus, the right ear of this person has a moderate hearing loss at high frequency.
Congratulation! You know how to read an audiogram now. A regular hearing test is important to make sure your audiogram is up-to-date to show your present hearing ability. If you still have any question, you can leave a comment below. I am more than happy to answer you. A regular hearing test is important to make sure your audiogram is up-to-date to show your present hearing ability.