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How to Understand the Results of Your Recent Hearing Test

woman discussing hearing test results with hearing specialist

Having a hearing test is the best option if you have hearing loss. Hearing loss can have occurred suddenly, or over a period of time. Here are some tips on how to understand the results of your hearing test. 

How Is Your Hearing Measured?

In a hearing test, your hearing is measured using an audiogram to plot the results. In a quiet and calm environment, with no background noise, you will be asked to place on a pair of headphones and listen for quiet sounds. This is called a threshold. One’s threshold is the softest sound one is able to hear around half of the time in which it is being played. In short, even if you issued a few of the sounds, this is normal. 

How to Read the Graph

The graph in which your results are plotted can look different to what you are used to. However, it works in the same way any other graph does, in the fact that it has both an x axis and a y axis. The same as all graphs, the x axis is on the bottom and the y on the side. In the case of a hearing test, the x axis is labelled as the pitch.

The pitch goes from low to high, when you go from left to right. 250 hertz is the lowest form of frequency measured, as this is the average hertz a person will be able to hear, as well as being also relatively quiet. For the highest sound, 8000 hertz will be used, which, logically, will be plotted at the far-right hand side of the x axis. 

For the y axis, otherwise known as the horizontal line running up the side of the graph, loudness is recorded. For the hearing test, loudness, otherwise known as intensity, will be recorded in decibels. The lowest decibel will be at the top of the graph. Not to be confused with no sound at all, zero decibels, which can be seen at the very top of the graph, actually represents the quietest sound. This quietest sound is the average sound a person can hear. 

The Symbols on an Audiogram 

On the described audiogram, there are symbols that are used to show different aspects of the test. For example, to test with headphones on the ears is known as the air conduction test. This is called the air conduction test because the sound has to travel through the air, hence conducting, in order for it to be heard by the inner ear. For the ear on the right, the air conduction results are labelled with an O, for the left ear and a blue X. Most importantly, the left ear results are always recorded in blue, and the right ears are always recorded in red. 

The use of a graph to show your hearing in both ears is the best option to record all the necessary data. Simple to read, and effective in showing all of the information you need to go forward, an audiogram needn’t be something to avoid. If you have any questions ask your hearing healthcare professional.