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KNOWLEDGE & TIPS

How to Understand Your Audiogram Results

Written by OrkaAug 07, 2021 - 5 min read

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You finally decided to take a hearing test.

You took the test.

Got the results.

But, now you have these alien lines in front of you. What shall you do?

Welcome to the world of the audiogram, a crucial tool that pairs your hearing test outcomes with the pathway to finding your perfect hearing aid.

Introduction

If you're navigating the world of hearing loss, understanding your audiogram results is a crucial first step towards finding the perfect hearing aid. Whether you're experiencing mild or severe hearing loss, decoding the information presented in your audiogram can empower you to make informed decisions about your hearing health.

Deciphering Your Audiogram

An audiogram is a visual representation of your hearing ability, typically presented in the form of a graph. The horizontal axis represents frequency, ranging from low to high pitches, while the vertical axis represents intensity, measuring the loudness of sounds. Understanding these two dimensions is key to interpreting your audiogram accurately.

Frequency (Hz)

Frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), indicates the pitch of sounds. Low frequencies, such as the rumble of thunder or the deep tones of a cello, are plotted on the left side of the graph, while high frequencies, like the chirping of birds or the ringing of a telephone, are on the right. Your audiogram will depict different frequencies to assess your hearing across the spectrum.

Decibels Hearing Level (dB HL)

In an audiogram, "dB HL" measures an individual's hearing sensitivity across different frequencies againist a standard "normal" hearing threshold. Soft sounds, like a whisper or rustling leaves, are plotted at the top of the graph, while loud sounds, such as a jackhammer or rock concert, are at the bottom. The audiogram measures the quietest sounds you can hear at each frequency, providing insights into your hearing thresholds.

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How to understand your audiogram results.

Interpreting the Results

When you receive your audiogram, you'll notice a series of symbols and lines that represent your hearing thresholds. These thresholds indicate the softest sounds you can hear at different frequencies. Here's how to interpret the results:


Symbol Key
  • O: Right ear air conduction
  • X: Left ear air conduction
  • <: Right ear bone conduction
  • >: Left ear bone conduction
Color Types
  • Red (circles): Right ear air conduction thresholds
  • Blue (cross): Left ear air conduction thresholds

How audiologists play tic-tac-toe… (Xs and Os)

Every audiogram consists of X and O symbols charted on a graph. Xs (sometimes in little squares) represent left ear results, whilst Os represent right ear results. The scores are then compared to results obtained from people with normal hearing.


Audiogram Ranges:

The point of the audiogram is to determine where your ability to hear falls on the typical range of sound levels.

In most cases, the “normal” range will be from zero to twenty decibels on the vertical axis. Results falling outside of this range could be a sign that you are suffering from some degree of Hearing loss.


Types of Hearing Loss:
  1. Conductive Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss is characterized by a discrepancy between bone conduction scores, which are normal, and air conduction scores, which reveal a hearing loss. In other words, an audiogram would show a normal ability to hear when sound bypasses the outer and middle ear (via bone conduction), but a decreased ability when sound travels the usual path through the air and these parts of the ear (air conduction). This indicates a problem with sound transmission through the outer or middle ear to the inner ear.

  2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss: This is a type of hearing loss where both air and bone conduction scores reveal a hearing deficit. An audiogram would show a similar decrease in hearing ability for both types of conduction, without a significant gap between the two. This typically points to an issue in the inner ear or auditory nerve, where the conversion of sound to electrical signals occurs.

  3. Mixed Hearing Loss: This form of hearing loss is represented by a decrease in hearing ability for both bone and air conduction, with the loss being greater for air conduction. An audiogram would show a decrease in hearing ability when sound is transmitted either through the bone or through the air, with the air conduction loss being more pronounced. This suggests a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
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Audiogram from Orka

The Speech Banana

The speech banana is a concept used in audiology to illustrate where the phonemes, or sounds of human speech, appear on an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph that shows the softest sounds a person can hear at different frequencies. The term 'speech banana' comes from the banana-like shape that the sounds of human speech form on this graph.

The low sound frequencies, ranging from 125 Hz to 1000 Hz, are primarily responsible for a person’s interpretation of the volume of speech. These frequencies often correspond to the vowels and some consonants in speech, which carry the bulk of the voice's power and volume.

In contrast, high sound frequencies are responsible for the clarity and sharpness of speech. These frequencies, typically above 1000 Hz, are where many consonant sounds fall, particularly those that are unvoiced like “f”, “ph”, “th”, “s” and “t”. These sounds are essential for distinguishing between similar words, and they are often the hardest to hear for individuals with high-frequency hearing loss.

Many people with high-frequency losses express a common sentiment: “My hearing is good, people just sound like they are mumbling.” This is because while they can hear the volume of speech (low frequencies), they struggle with the clarity (high frequencies). The speech banana concept helps illustrate this phenomenon, showing how different speech sounds fall within different frequency and volume ranges, and how hearing loss in certain ranges can impact speech comprehension.

So what now?

Consult your doctor about your audiogram results. Keep in mind that untreated hearing loss may lead to a phenomenon called auditory deprivation. This can result in a decline in your brain's ability to process speech, which can become more challenging to reverse the longer you go without using hearing aids. It's essential to address hearing loss early and use hearing aids if they are recommended, to keep the auditory pathways in your brain properly stimulated.

Choosing the Right Hearing Aid

Armed with the knowledge of your audiogram results, selecting the right hearing aid becomes a more manageable task. Here are some factors to consider:

Degree of Hearing Loss

Your audiogram will indicate the severity of your hearing loss, categorized as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Different hearing aids are designed to address varying degrees of hearing loss, so understanding your audiogram helps narrow down your options.

Hearing Aid Styles

Hearing aids come in various styles, from discreet in-the-ear (ITE) options to behind-the-ear (BTE) models. Your hearing loss profile, lifestyle, dexterity, and cosmetic preferences will influence the style that best suits your needs.


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Understand your audiogram to choose right hearing aids.


Technology Features

Modern hearing aids are equipped with an array of advanced features, including noise reduction, directional microphones, and Bluetooth connectivity. Consider which features are essential for your daily activities and communication needs.

Comfort and Fit

Comfort is paramount when choosing a hearing aid. Factors such as size, shape, and fit contribute to overall comfort, ensuring that you can wear your hearing aids comfortably throughout the day.

Orka: Your Partner in Better Hearing

At Orka, we understand the importance of finding the perfect hearing solution tailored to your unique needs. Our premium hearing aids combine cutting-edge technology with unparalleled comfort and style, empowering you to rediscover the joys of hearing. Explore our range of innovative hearing aids today and embark on a journey towards clearer, crisper sound.
Before heading to a physical office for a hearing test to obtain your audiogram, consider taking an online hearing test first to obtain an initial audiogram. Utilize the insights provided in this article to gain a clear understanding of your hearing status.

Get Your First Audiogram Right NowTake Free Online Screening

Conclusion

Understanding your audiogram results is the first step towards reclaiming the sounds of everyday life. By decoding the information presented in your audiogram and considering factors such as degree of hearing loss, hearing aid styles, and technology features, you can make an informed decision about choosing the right hearing aid for you.



Reviewed by Dr. Changgeng MoDoctor of Audiology (AuD), Research Audiologist at OrkaDr. Mo holds a PhD in Audiology from the University of Hong Kong, and is deeply passionate about improving quality of life for individuals with hearing loss through innovative research and advanced clinical practices.

All content and information on this website is for informal and educational purposes only, nothing contained herein shall constitute medical advice, and does not establish any patient-client relationship by your use and access of this blog.
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