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Looking at an audiogram

Posted by Christina Jedra  April 23, 2013 03:03 PM

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The following was submitted by Lolly Wigall: 

Describing hearing loss is an odd thing and a complex phenomenon.    Discovering if you have a hearing loss can be complicated too.  Hearing conversational speech is usually not an all-or-nothing thing.

Hearing is charted on an audiogram.  An audiogram is a graph or picture of a person’s hearing. The top of the graph shows frequency or hertz.  The low pitches or base start on the left side and gradually increase in pitch to the right side of the graph.  If you looked at an audiogram 125 Hz would be on the left side at the top, and 8,000 Hz would be on the top right side.  Thinking about a piano, the base is on the left, and the treble is on the right side of the keyboard.  It is the same for an audiogram.  

Down the left side of the graph is loudness or decibels.  At the top left hand corner is 0 dBs descending to 110 dBs at the bottom of the chart.  When you look at the audiogram, the soft sounds are at the top of the chart, and the loud sounds are at the bottom of the chart.  

A complete hearing test should be done in a sound proof room.  Headphones are worn so that each ear can be tested separately.  As the person responds to the tones that are presented, the audiogram is marked with an X to represent the left ear, and an O to represent the right ear.    

The test also consists of your ability to hear soft speech.  Words are presented that get softer and softer.  The audiologist wants to record how soft you can correctly repeat words.  This is called speech reception thresholds.  Then, speech discrimination or speech clarity is tested at a comfortable listening level.  The audiologist wants to record how well you understand words in a quiet environment.  

At the end of the test you will see the audiogram is filled with X’s and O’s at the conjunction of loudness and frequency.  Each ear will be represented and possibly show a different pattern of hearing.  If the X’s and O’s are all between 0dB and 25dBs audiologists consider this to be within the normal range of hearing.  If the X’s and O’s show a pattern that is below 25dB, you have a hearing loss.

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