So, you have gone through all the tests with your audiologist, and you are ready to see your results. But how do you read them? Initially, it might look like many indecipherable lines and symbols, but once you learn how to read and interpret your audiogram, you will better understand your hearing. More so, your audiologist will use the results to determine the next steps for you. 

What is an Audiogram?

An audiogram is a graph or chart that displays your hearing test results, and it measures your hearing ability. An audiogram is used to help identify what level of hearing you have compared against normal hearing capabilities. For example, it can show the level at which sound becomes uncomfortably loud for you. This is called the uncomfortable loudness level (ULL).

Your audiologist will explain your results to you in terms of volume, pitch and speech sounds. 

By interpreting your results, your audiologist can understand the extent and nature of any loss measure and if any referable conditions exist. 

How is an Audiogram Created?

During a hearing test, sounds are presented at different pitches and volumes. A computer-driven audiometer is used to pitch to generate the sounds. An audiologist controls which the pitch of the sound is presented at what intensity. 

How to Read an Audiogram

The audiogram graph is used to make a comparison between the degree of hearing loss and which frequencies or pitch the hearing loss is at. 

The frequency is on the horizontal axis, which is displayed in Hertz (Hz), so for example, 250Hz is a low pitch sound and 8000 Hz is a high pitch sound. The amount of hearing loss is shown on the vertical axis in decibels (dB), where the higher the number, the greater the degree of hearing. 

The vertical axis of the audiogram chart is used to show the loudness or intensity of the signal presented. This is measured in decibel. The axis starts at -10dB and increases in five decibels steps up to 120dB.

Audiogram Symbols

An O is often used to represent responses for the right ear, and an X is used to describe responses for the left ear. A key on the audiogram, similar to one found on the map, identifies what the different symbols mean. 

The pitches shown on the audiogram are those most important for hearing and understanding conversation. When someone speaks, each sound we hear has a different pitch or loudness. For example, the s sound is high pitched and quiet. The o sound is low in pitch and louder. 

The decibel scale is a logarithmic scale in which the doubling of the sound pressure level corresponds to a level increase of six decibels. Decibels are not fixed values like volts or meters. 

The audiologist will interpret the results for each ear to determine the severity and nature of any loss that may be present. But it is not an easy feat to understand an audiogram, and if you do have any questions, your audiologist is there to help you get a clearer understanding.