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Understanding Your Hearing Test Results

Woman Getting Ear Exam

When you have a hearing test, your audiologist will carry out a few different tests to determine your level of hearing. Once you have had these tests, they can go through the results with you so that you understand whether you have any hearing loss and what your next steps might be. Hearing test results are plotted on an audiogram, which shows you the frequencies and volumes that you can hear in each ear. You can ask your audiologist to see this graph, and they can explain what it shows. However, you might wish to understand your results before your hearing test or you might wish to take a copy home with you.

If you want to be able to understand your hearing test results, take a look at these tips to learn what they mean.

What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is a graph that shows the softest sounds that someone can hear at different pitches or frequencies. It will often show hearing levels for both left and right ears on one graph, with different symbols for each ear. It might show asymmetrical hearing loss, where hearing loss is different in each ear, or it could show symmetrical hearing loss, where hearing loss is the same in both ears. If the hearing loss is symmetrical, the plotted data for both ears will follow the same pattern, whereas asymmetrical hearing loss will show as two lines that differ from each other.

High and low frequency hearing loss

Your hearing loss could be high frequency or low frequency. You can see the frequency along the top of your audiogram, with higher frequencies on the right. If you have hearing loss shown on your audiogram and the marks are mostly on the right, you have high frequency hearing loss, meaning that it's more difficult for you to hear high-pitched sounds. If they are on the left, you have low frequency hearing loss, making it harder to hear low-pitched sounds.

Decibels

The other axis on your audiogram measures decibels (dB), the unit of sound for measuring volume. The higher the number is, the higher the hearing loss is. For example, if a mark is at 80 dB, it means that sound below that volume won't be picked up by the ear. Some audiograms also come with information that tell you what you can hear at different decibels, or your audiologist can give you some separate information. This helps you to understand how your hearing loss might affect you in your day-to-day life.

Word recognition score

Hearing test results also display a Word recognition score, which measures your speech comprehension. Part of the reason for measuring this is that it helps to indicate whether hearing aids would be useful for you or not. Below a certain point, audiologists won't recommend the use of hearing aids, although this differs for every audiologist. Many use 50 percent as the threshold. If you are unsure about your hearing test results, speak to your audiologist to find out more about what they mean.


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