Understanding an Audiogram
An audiogram is the most efficient way in order to measure one’s hearing. If there’s any chance of some form of hearing damage, this type of test is conducted in order to measure what level of hearing loss has been received. It’s one thing to think that you may have hearing loss, and its entirely another to take the steps necessary to see a hearing specialist. Ignoring the problem all together does nothing but exacerbate the problem, making a possible easy fix into something much worse. Don’t let your emotion or ego get in the way of finding a solution for the damage to your hearing. The following will go into how to initially read an audiogram and why they are so important to guide you to a hearing enhancement solution.
Reading an Audiogram
When looking at an audiogram, you will quickly notice that there are two axis that in turn coordinate with how positive or negative your hearing actually is. On the vertical axis of the diagram, you will see see that it relates to the volume or overall loudness measured in decibels (dB). The farther down the axis it goes, obviously means the more dangerous it is for unprotected ears. On the opposing horizontal axis, this will represent the frequency of the sound measured in Hertz (Hz). You will see the frequency increases the further to the right you move down this part of the graph. You can compare the increase of this type of sound by playing on one side of the keyboard and moving to the other. 500-3000 Hz is what’s commonly used in day to day conversation. Typically “O’s” are used for the right ear and “X’s” for the left. There will usually be a difference in hearing loss between the two ears. Individuals with decent hearing can usually hear between -10 and 20 dB’s, anything above this and there is hearing loss that needs to be looked at. Moving up from there 21 dB’s to 40 dB’s is considered mild hearing loss. Your friends and family will be the ones to notice it before yourself. 41 dB’s-70 dB’s is considered moderate hearing loss. 71 dB-90 dB’s is considered severe hearing loss. This can be dangerous as you lack the general awareness to your surroundings. Anything above 90 dB’s and your hearing can be considered profound and is definitely something that requires immediate attention.
How it’s Conducted
First and foremost, audiograms need to be conducted in a clean and sterile environment free of any “noise pollution” which could render the test useless. Under these strict conditions, the test is given with the subject having to wear headphones. This would be called testing the “air conduction threshold.” The audiologist is able to measure the hearing system as a whole through this method. Another way in order to get a decent reading from the subject is to use what’s called a “bone conduction” method. The specialist will place a device that rests on the bone that is behind your ear. Through this method sound is transmitted through vibrations from the individuals bone in their skull to the inner part of their ear. This type of test isolates the level of your hearing for the inner part of your ear. Usually this is where most of the damage occurs from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). This can occur from constant exposure to loud machinery such as in the workplace or even something as simple as a one time exposure to an explosion or gunfire. The hearing specialist can then compare the air and bone conduction results in order to narrow down the specifics of your hearing loss. Another simple method is through a speech test. As the name states, it is through you hearing someone’s speech either by a pair of headphones or a loudspeaker can the specialist determine the extent of damage to your hearing. This can also see if there is an extensive amount of damage to your auditory nerve, which is what sends the sound signals to the brain. If there are any type of issues or damage to this area than it could be why you’re not able to fully understand people. The last type of test that is conducted is tympanometry. This ends up checking the condition of your middle ear as well as the overall mobility of the eardrum itself. Through all of these steps, the audiologist can find a complete solution for the issues with your hearing.
Step Up and Take Charge
Your hearing is specific to you and how well or bad you’ve taken care of it. No one wants to admit that they have hearing damage, but the first step to fixing it is to embrace the need for one. The worst thing to do is to ignore the problem all together and it festers into something much worse. Step up and take responsibility in order to live an enriched and full life today.