How to read an Audiogram

An audiogram is a graphical representation of hearing that Audiologist and other health care providers use to assess the degree of hearing loss a patient has. 

How to read the results of a hearing test

From left to right you are looking at low frequencies to high frequencies (Hz). This is also characterized as low pitch to high pitch. You can think of this like piano keys that go from low to high pitch as you go across the keyboard.

From top to bottom is the loudness scale in decibels (dB). Decibels is a unit of measurement for sound level. At the top you have soft sounds and as you go down it gets louder. You can think of this like a TV channel volume scale, as you increase the TVs volume the numbers get bigger.

Degrees of hearing loss:

There are multiple ways to explain an audiogram to a patient. One characteristic is the degree of hearing loss you have. You can see that the blocked colors of the audiogram show different degrees. From normal hearing at the soft levels to profound hearing loss when you get to a high loudness level.

How does this relate to your everyday life?

To understand what this graphical representation means in terms of day to day life there are also multiple pictures to show how loud and what frequency range common sounds are in. For example, rustling leaves are a very soft sound and have a loudness of 0-10 decibels (dB) and are in the pitch range of 1000-2000 Hz which are mid-frequencies. Another example is a dog barking, this sound is a moderately loud sound around 70-80 decibels (dB) and is in the low frequency range.

Lastly, in terms of speech there is the “speech banana” outline on the audiogram and specific speech sounds. Normal conversation level is about 50-55 decibels in terms of loudness. In the lower frequencies we have our vowels and they tend to have more power behind them which means they are louder. As we go higher in frequency, we have our consonants which give the clarity of speech. Many people who have high frequency hearing loss often say, “I can tell someone is talking but I cannot always make out what they said” that is because they are missing the clarity that the consonants give but still have access to the vowels that give them the loudness to tell someone is talking.

Now what?

Talk to your primary audiologist or visit Hearing Care of Palatine for a comprehensive hearing evaluation and more information on how these specific explanations relate to your hearing. Our contact number is (847) 262-9579