How to Read an Audiogram: 15 Steps (with Images)

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How to Read an Audiogram: 15 Steps (with Images)
How to Read an Audiogram: 15 Steps (with Images)

When taking a hearing test, you will receive an audiogram that shows your results. You can see a representation of how you hear sounds based on frequencies (also called pitch) and loudness (also called volume). An audiogram looks like a graph with plotted dots, and each dot shows the lowest intensity level at which you can hear each frequency. With a little practice, you will be able to read an audiogram easily.


Part 1 of 3: Understanding the Parts of an Audiogram

Read an Audiogram Step 1

Step 1. Find the frequency represented at the bottom of the graph

The horizontal axis of the graph shows the frequencies that were used in the test measured in Hertz. Each line corresponds to its own frequency, which lets you see how far you heard it. They start low and get higher in the spectrum.

  • Frequencies typically range from 250 to 8000 Hz.
  • Lower numbers represent sounds of lesser intensity, while higher numbers mean louder sounds.
Read an Audiogram Step 2

Step 2. Locate the intensity on the side of the graph

The vertical axis shows the intensity of the sounds you hear measured in decibels. Each horizontal line corresponds to an intensity level, which is the volume of sounds. The hearing test starts at the lowest intensity level and stops when you indicate that you can hear the sound.

The intensity ranges from -10 to 120 dB

Read an Audiogram Step 3

Step 3. Look for an “X” or a square

Your left ear is represented by an “X” or a square, depending on which icon the company administering the test decides to use. You will see the “X” or square in one of the lines drawn within the graph.

  • The line representing the left ear is usually also blue.
  • If you used headphones during the test, you will see only two lines, one for the right ear and one for the left.
Read an Audiogram Step 4

Step 4. Find the circle or triangle

This symbol represents the right ear. As with the left, the symbol used depends on the company that administers the test. You will see the circle or triangle on a line drawn within the graph.

  • The line of the right ear is usually red.
  • Most audiograms depict only the right and left ears. If you find one of the lines, you will know by elimination that the second line must represent the other ear.
Read an Audiogram Step 5

Step 5. Look for an “S” if you have not used headphones

Most hearing tests include headphones that produce two results – one for each ear. However, you may hear sounds from a speaker. If so, you will see a line with an “S” that will tell you the quality of your hearing for these sounds.

The speaker test results represent the hearing quality of your strongest ear

Read an Audiogram Step 6

Step 6. Look for arrows ("") if you have taken a bone conduction test

If such an exam is included in the audiometric test, different symbols will be used. Your right ear will be represented by the “” symbol.

  • Bone conduction testing can also be demonstrated with brackets, such as [for the right ear and] for the left.
  • This test is used to determine what is causing the hearing loss, such as damaged nerves or something like ear wax that is blocking sound waves.
  • Most audiograms do not contain these symbols.
Read an Audiogram Step 7

Step 7. Recognize the hearing thresholds

Your audiogram should have shading that indicates the five different thresholds for hearing. Each threshold includes ranges of intensity readings from normal to hearing loss. With this, you can see the quality of your hearing compared to someone in the normal range.

  • Normal hearing ranges between 0 and 25 dB.
  • Mild hearing loss varies between 25 and 40 dB.
  • Moderate hearing loss ranges from 40 to 55 dB.
  • Moderate to severe loss ranges from 55 to 70 dB.
  • Severe loss ranges from 70 to 90 dB.
  • A severe hearing loss requires an intensity above 90 dB.

Part 2 of 3: Deciphering Your Results

Read an Audiogram Step 8

Step 1. Scan from left to right

The left side shows the lowest frequencies, meaning the lowest sounds. It is recommended to start on that side to read the graph more easily.

Many people with hearing loss can hear lower sounds better, meaning you'll get better results for those frequencies

Read an Audiogram Step 9

Step 2. Focus on one ear at a time

It's usually easier to look at one result at a time, especially if you have different levels of hearing in each ear. It will be easier for you to process the results if you are looking at one row at a time.

However, if they are too close together, it is better to look at them together

Read an Audiogram Step 10

Step 3. Look at the frequency first

Start with 250 Hz, which is the lowest frequency. Swipe up on the graph until you find the point. Look to your left to see how loud this point corresponds, which will show the softest sound you can hear at that frequency.

For example, your 250 Hz point might be on the line that corresponds to the 15 dB intensity. This means that you cannot hear this frequency when it is demonstrated at a volume less than 15dB. The louder the dB, the louder the sound must be transmitted for you to be able to hear it

Read an Audiogram Step 11

Step 4. Find the results for each frequency

Repeat the process to find the strength of each frequency. To make things easier, follow the line connecting the points drawn for that specific ear.

You must have dashes for 250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 4000 Hz and 8000 Hz

Read an Audiogram Step 12

Step 5. Repeat the process for the other ear

Start again at the highest frequency and follow the traced line to find the lowest intensity with which you can hear each sound.

If you have other results, such as the “s” or the bone conduction test, read them in exactly the same way. The only difference in the way the information is presented is the symbols

Part 3 of 3: Determining if you have hearing loss

Read an Audiogram Step 13

Step 1. Find the thresholds at which each frequency meets

Each plotted point will be classified into one of the five thresholds. You may be able to hear some frequencies in the lower range, while the volume of others is in one of the hearing loss ranges.

If any part of your graph is in the “hearing loss” range, you have a hearing problem

Read an Audiogram Step 14

Step 2. Analyze the slope of the line for each ear

This will show you what type of hearing loss you have, as not all of them are the same. Some people hear all frequencies in the same intensity range, while others may have only partial hearing loss. Even though partial loss sounds better, it can still be serious if you can't hear certain frequencies.

  • A very steep slope indicates how the quality of your hearing varies depending on the frequency of sound. This makes it difficult to determine what type of hearing loss you have. You may be able to hear lower frequencies at a loudness in the normal or light-loss range, while high frequencies fall into the low-loss range. This means you have partial hearing loss.
  • A flatter line means your hearing is consistent, making it easier to determine what threshold you are at. You can look at the range of numbers where most of your graph falls, and this will indicate what kind of hearing loss you have. For example, if the graph ranges between 45 and 60 dB, you have moderate hearing loss.
Read an Audiogram Step 15

Step 3. Go back to the doctor

The professional can give you more information about the meaning of your results and what steps you should take to make it easier for you to live with your hearing loss, if applicable.

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