Audiograms – What are They and Why are They Important?

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Audiograms – What are They and Why are They Important?

Audiograms – What are They and Why are They Important?

Hearing tests are an important assessment to evaluate your current level of hearing. This helps decide if any treatment, such as the use of hearing aids, would be recommended to improve the quality of hearing.

Hearing tests are carried out in a soundproof environment and are used to determine how you interpret different sounds. This can help ensure you get the treatment and care required for your specific circumstances. As discussed frequently on this hearing blog, there are many different reasons someone may experience hearing loss so it’s important you understand why your hearing is impaired.

Hearing tests and assessments can be used by everyone, and as we get older, it’s recommended to have them more frequently. A big part of hearing tests is the use of audiograms. But what exactly are audiograms and why are they important?

What are Audiograms?

An audiogram is a graph that details how you interpret sound. This helps show how you hear different frequencies at different volumes. This can help translate what that means for your day-to-day hearing. A qualified health professional may use various hearing assessments to test your hearing and often plot the results as an audiogram.

The premise of an audiogram is to show how well you can hear different sound frequencies. Health professionals use the term “hearing threshold” to describe the point at which a sound frequency becomes inaudible. A hearing threshold of between 0 and 25 dB is considered normal. This means an audiogram that shows hearing thresholds below this may indicate a degree of hearing impairment.

Based on what the audiogram looks like, it can help diagnose the extent of your hearing impairment and help illustrate how significant it is.

When we offer hearing assessments here at Hearing Solutions UK, we ensure we go through the audiogram with our patients as detailed as possible, so they fully understand what the results mean. For the best management of hearing impairment and any other health condition, it’s always best the patient fully understands and is engaged with what the results mean and subsequent course of treatment. If you’d like to learn more about our hearing assessments, get in touch today and one of our friendly staff will help you get started.

Interpreting Audiogram Results

The frequency of a sound is expressed as cycles per second, also known as Hertz. This relates to the “pitch” of a sound. This is why different noises and sounds are interpreted by us differently, as they have different pitches.

Low frequency sounds include things like thunder, or a rumble, or a deep voice. High frequency sounds include things like a whistle, squeak or a bird’s calling.

Each frequency is tested at varying volumes, known as decibels (dB). Normal hearing is when the softest sounds (just before you can’t hear the sound anymore) is between 0-20dB. Mild hearing loss is between 21-40dB. This type of hearing loss may mean you struggle following conversations in loud environments. 41-70dB is associated with quite moderate hearing loss. This may mean you struggle to interpret speech. Between 71-95dB is considered severe hearing loss and is likely to mean you can’t hear speech, even in quiet surroundings. Anything over 95dB is regarded as profound hearing loss and means you are unlikely to hear most sounds, unless they are very loud.

What an Audiogram Looks Like

An audiogram usually plots the volume on the vertical axis, which is measured in decibels. The loudest sounds are at the bottom and the softest near the top. This means those will good hearing will have an audiogram with a line plotted closer to the top of the graph, compared to someone with hearing impairment who may have a line plotted closer to the middle/bottom of the graph.

The horizontal line represents the sound frequency, or pitch, which is measured in Hertz (Hz). Usually low pitch sounds are on the left, and high pitch sounds on the right. Hearing impairment may not impact all frequency sounds, which is why plotting the horizontal line is so important in hearing assessments. It may be a case that your hearing loss impacts high or low frequency sounds more. An audiogram is great at being able to visualise and illustrate this to help understand how your hearing will relate to everyday activities and sounds.

Both ears are usually tested separately and if plotted on the same graph, red is usually used for right ear, and blue for the left ear.

Importance of Hearing Tests and Audiograms

Having a clear presentation of how you responded to different sounds frequencies at different volumes is the best way to understand the degree of any hearing impairment. Often hearing aids can work wonders at helping amplify and improve hearing. It may be a case that you’re currently getting by without enjoying the full spectrum of sound and may not be using a simple solution like a hearing aid to improve your hearing.

Our blog on cookie bite hearing loss is a great example of how an audiogram can help illustrate a specific type of hearing impairment, which may otherwise be hard to interpret on your own. Gradual hearing loss is also something that can be hard for patients to recognise as the impairment happens so gradually, but can result in significant impairment of hearing.

Hearing Assessments with Hearing Solutions UK

If you think you need a hearing assessment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Hearing Solutions UK. We offer the very best in hearing assessments and hearing aids, to help anyone suffering from hearing impairment get the care and treatment they need. We have hearing devices supplied in a variety of shapes and styles, from those completely invisible in the ear canal to radical new hearing bands that are more akin to the latest music headphones.

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