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Sound audiometry & speech audiometry

From sound threshold audiometry to speech intelligibility tests

From sound threshold audiometry to speech intelligibility tests

Have you ever wondered what sound and speech audiometry is? Do you know what it is used for? This article explains the differences between the two examinations and when these are used.

Tone threshold audiometry or tone audiometry

If a person thinks they may be suffering from a hearing impairment, the ENT specialist may recommend an audiometry to assess the hearing performance. Tonal audiometry, which comes in two types, is used for this purpose.

  • The first type, "tonal threshold" audiometry, measures the hearing threshold using pure tones in the frequency range of 125 Hz to 8 kHz. 
  • The second type, "supra-threshold" tonal audiometry, examines frequencies above this range, specifically those above 8 kHz.

It's important that an audiometry is conducted by a hearing specialist, such as an ENT specialist, an audiometrist, or a hearinng specialist.This risk-free hearing test is suitable for individuals of all ages, including children and seniors.

Tonal audiometry procedure

During the hearing test, the patient is tested with basic auditory stimuli through headphones in a soundproof booth, while a doctor or technician completes a test card documenting the results. By analysing the audiogram, which can reveal any irregularities in the hearing process, the potential cause of hearing problems, such as hearing trauma or ear disease, can be detected. This test is available to everyone, regardless of age or other factors.
Amplifon audiologist talking to a client in an Amplifon clinic

Why choose Amplifon?

By choosing Amplifon as your hearing care provider, you’re choosing to be cared and looked after by qualified and experienced Audiologists who can help change the way you listen to the world around you.

How is a tonal audiogram performed?

An audiogram is a graphical representation of a person's hearing ability, which is determined by the results of the audiometry test. During the test, the patient's hearing threshold is established, which is the minimum intensity at which they can perceive auditory stimuli in different frequency ranges.

Some advanced applications use the Doppler effect to understand how blood flow works in the inner ear and how it affects hearing. 

The audiogram is created using standard forms that record various frequencies, or pitches, and their respective intensities, measured in decibels. A measurement of zero on the chart indicates normal hearing.

The audiogram includes two values that describe the two ways in which sound can enter the inner ear. The first value refers to air conduction, the most common method of hearing, in which sound waves travel from the outer ear to the inner ear. The second value refers to bone conduction, in which sound vibrations reach the inner ear through the bones of the skull.

Audiogram interpretation

The audiogram is composed of two axes: the vertical and horizontal axes. The vertical axis represents the intensity of sounds in decibels, while the horizontal axis displays the lowest sounds.

  • Vertical axis: The vertical axis (or y-axis) displays the degree of hearing loss, measured in decibels (dB). At the top of the axis, values representing perfect hearing, i.e., sounds with an intensity of 0 dB, are listed. On the lower end of the axis are the values that indicate hearing loss.
  • Horizontal axis: The horizontal axis (or x-axis), known as the abscissa, records the different frequencies. The most commonly used frequencies in hearing tests are 125 - 250 - 500 - 1000 - 2000 - 3000 - 4000 - 8000 Hz, which are the most significant frequencies perceivable by human hearing.

What is the purpose of speech audiometry?

The aim of speech audiometry is to assess the patient's ability to comprehend speech spoken at a specific volume. This non-invasive hearing test is suitable for individuals of all age groups, including children and the elderly.

A speech audiometry is done as follows: 

  • The hearing test is conducted in a soundproof booth and takes roughly 15 minutes. 
  • The patient wears headphones through which words spoken at varying volumes are presented.
  • The patient t is then required to repeat the words back to the doctor or audiometrist.
  • The outcomes of the test are shown on a graph, known as a speech audiogram.

What is a speech audiogram?

Similar to a sound audiogram, a speech audiogram displays the results of the speech audiometry test.

At the end of the test, the administrator calculates the percentage of correct responses and plots them on the speech audiogram.

How do you evaluate a speech audiogram?

Are you interested in learning how to correctly read and interpret a speech audiogram? The speech audiogram is evaluated in a similar manner to the sound audiogram, with the examiner recording the percentage of correct responses provided by the individual during the hearing test. The speech audiogram is categorized into three different comprehension thresholds.

  • Threshold 1 represents a comprehension rate of 0%, meaning that the spoken word is perceived as an indistinguishable noise. 
  • Threshold 2 corresponds to a comprehension rate of 50%. 
  • Threshold 3 symbolises a high level of comprehension, in which speech messages are fully understood at 100%.

In the speech audiogram, these three comprehension thresholds are connected by the auditory threshold curve, an S-shaped curve that indicates a person with normal hearing in the speech audiogram. Responses are assessed by determining how far the hearing threshold deviates from the 100% threshold.

How do you know if you need a hearing test?

If you notice your hearing deteriorating, it's best to undergo sound and speech audiometry tests.

Additionally, if your tinnitus symptoms are worsening, the aforementioned hearing tests can help pinpoint the severity and causes of your hearing problems. Thanks to sound and speech audiometry tests, hearing care professionals can determine a person's hearing perception (in relation to different frequencies), identify hearing impairments and suggest the appropriate solution in the next step.

Avoiding a hearing test is strongly discouraged, as it can have serious repercussions. Hearing loss doesn't just impact the elderly but also children, for whom hearing difficulties can lead to language development and learning problems. Therefore, prevention is vital. That's why we recommend visiting your nearest Amplifon centre and having your hearing checked by our experts. 

Sound & Speech Audiometry at Amplifon

You can get a no-obligation, free hearing test at your nearest Amplifon branch. You can receive an audiogram as part of our free hearing tests. Sound and speech audiometry tests are also included in the price of a hearing aid fitting.
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Test your hearing ability at Amplifon

If you are experiencing problems with you hearing, you can get a free hearing test at Amplifon. To do this, visit the Amplifon clinic nearest to you, which you can find it using our online store locator.

Have a look at our related contents

Learn more on how your hearing works, thanks to our experts contents. You can also have a look at our blog, with our lates news. 

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