What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is a graph that plots the results of your hearing test. During your hearing test, you will be asked to respond to sounds. Every time you respond the result is recorded and plotted on the graph.

An Audiogram is used to help identify what level of hearing you have compared against normal hearing capabilities. It has the ability to show the level at which sound becomes uncomfortably loud for you. This is called the 'uncomfortable loudness level' (ULL).

 

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How to read an audiogram

As an audiogram is a graph, it is used to make a comparison between the degree of hearing loss and which frequencies or pitch the hearing loss is at.

The frequency is on the horizontal axis, which is displayed in Hertz (Hz), where 250 Hz is a low pitch sound and 8000 Hz is a high pitch sound. The amount of hearing loss is shown on the vertical axis in decibels (dB), where the higher the number, the greater the degree of hearing loss. Thresholds from 0 to 20 dB are considered to be within normal hearing range for adults. Any results outside of these thresholds typically means that you maybe experiencing hearing difficulties. You may find some environments more challenging than others. The knowledge and expertise of our Audiologists can help and advise you as to what to do next.

The degree of loss is usually one of the following:

The hearing loss thresholds are further categorized into:

  • Mild hearing loss (26 – 40 dB HL)
    Patients will find it difficult to hear soft sounds and undertones in noisy backgrounds
  • Moderate hearing loss (41 – 55 dB HL)
    Difficult to follow speech with background noises
  • Severe hearing loss (71 – 90 dB HL)
    Extremely difficult to follow conversations
  • Profound hearing loss (above 90 dB HL)
    Hearing gets impossible without hearing aids.

(The 100 dB point should not be confused with a 100% hearing loss)

 

What is Hearing loss?

Hearing loss is the partial or total inability to hear. It’s a common problem that can affect anyone. Also referred to as hearing impairment or deafness, hearing loss covers a wide range of categories and symptoms which can be caused by a variety of factors and circumstances.

Hearing problems can be temporary or permanent and can occur gradually or suddenly depending on the cause. One or both ears can be affected, or one ear may be affected more than the other.

 

Conductive or Sensorineural hearing loss

There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural.

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot reach the inner ear. Causes can include a build-up of earwax, something blocking the outer ear, outer and middle ear infections, excess fluid in the middle ear, perforated eardrums, and abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
  • Sensorineural loss is when damage is caused to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear or to the auditory nerve that transmits nerve impulses to the brain. Causes might be ageing and exposure to loud noises, as well as hereditary hearing issues and problems arising from physical trauma, certain medicines and viral infections of the inner ear.

If your symptoms affect only one ear, it is defined as unilateral hearing, whereas loss in both ears is called bilateral hearing loss.

 

Hearing loss: causes, signs, treatments

Common hearing loss signs include:

  • Asking your friends or loved ones to repeat themselves
  • Having the television up too loud
  • Having to concentrate when trying to hear people in conversation
  • Misunderstanding people
  • Difficulty in noisy environments

 

Recognising when a loved one has hearing loss

Recognising that someone close to you, a friend or family member is experiencing challenges with their hearing is not always easy as hearing loss tends to happen gradually over time and your loved may not know that they have some symptoms of hearing loss. It can present questions such as, what can I do to help my loved one? Where can I get more information? Who can I go to for help?

Understanding the types of environments your loved one experiences difficulties in can help identify the type of hearing loss they may have. You may find that you’re loved is aware that their hearing is not as good as it used to be but is unsure what to do or they may refuse to accept changes in their hearing.

Changes in your loved one’s hearing can affect their emotional state of mind. They may feel stressed and frustrated by not being able to hear everything around them or conversations with those closest to them. Feeling embarrassed or nervous as you may misunderstand parts of the conversation or not fully understanding a conversation. Social adventures can become more challenging for your loved ones and they may not attend as many events and gatherings due to this.

 

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