In a world filled with an array of sounds, hearing and perceiving them is a precious gift. Unfortunately, hearing loss affects millions of people worldwide. To diagnose and understand the extent of hearing impairment, audiologists rely on a crucial tool known as the audiogram.

What is an Audiogram?

Jeffrey E. Baylor, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified otolaryngologist at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates.

An audiogram, or a hearing test, is a visual representation of an individual’s hearing abilities across a range of frequencies. It is a graph that plots a person’s hearing thresholds, which indicate the softest sounds they can perceive at different pitches or frequencies. The results are obtained through a comprehensive hearing test by a qualified audiologist.

“The typical audiogram measures thresholds at frequencies within a range slightly broader than that of human speech. This allows us to quantify and visually display a patient’s degree and type of hearing loss.,” says Jeffrey E. Baylor, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified otolaryngologist at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates.

How to Read an Audiogram

Graph ddisplaying hearing level with volume in dB, against Pitch frequency in Hz. it compares normal hearing in the right ear and hearing loss in the left because of audiometric

Understanding an audiogram may seem intimidating at first glance, but with some guidance, it becomes a powerful tool for comprehension. The graph consists of two axes: frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), and intensity or volume, measured in decibels (dB). The frequency axis ranges from low to high pitches, while the intensity axis depicts softer to louder sounds.

Kelli M. Ferry, AuD., CCC-A, of The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates, says, “The results of an audiogram are an important tool used by Audiologists to assess each patient’s individual hearing abilities. This allows us to make a personalized treatment plan for each patient. It can also be used as a counseling tool for patients’ families providing  them a better understanding on how to communicate effectively with their loved ones” 

On the graph, you will notice a series of symbols or  marks, each indicating the threshold at which the individual can barely hear the presented sound. Left and right ears are tested separately. The right ear is often marked with a red “O” and the left ear is marked with a blue “X” These thresholds are measured in decibels (dB) and connected by a line called the audiogram’s “hearing curve.” The curve’s shape provides insights into the type and severity of hearing loss.

Who Receives an Audiogram?

senior couple outside with the backdrop of a bright blue sky in field of wild flowers. they are enjoying themeselves the man gives a piggy back ride to the woman

Audiograms are not limited to a particular age group or demographic. They are administered to individuals of all ages, from infants to older adults. Some common reasons for receiving an audiogram include the following:

Newborn Hearing Screening: Audiograms identify hearing loss in newborns, ensuring early intervention and treatment.

Children and Students: Audiograms help assess hearing abilities in children and students, identifying any potential issues that may impact their education and development.

Adults and Seniors: Audiograms aid in diagnosing age-related hearing loss, monitoring changes in hearing over time, and recommending appropriate interventions such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Occupational Health: Workers in noisy environments, such as construction sites or factories, may undergo audiograms to evaluate their hearing health and determine the need for hearing protection.

What are Audiograms Typically Used For?

Audiograms serve as a fundamental tool for several important purposes within the field of audiology:

Diagnosis of Hearing Loss: By comparing an individual’s audiogram to a standardized range of hearing abilities, audiologists can determine the type and severity of hearing loss. This information forms the basis for personalized treatment plans.

Treatment Planning: Audiograms provide essential data for recommending appropriate interventions, such as hearing aids, assistive listening devices, or other rehabilitative services.

Monitoring Progress: Regular audiograms help track changes in hearing abilities over time, allowing audiologists to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Research and Statistics: Audiograms contribute to the collective knowledge in audiology, enabling researchers to study trends, patterns, and prevalence of hearing loss in different populations.

Audiograms are indispensable tools to help with hearing loss. By understanding how to read an audiogram, we can decipher the mysteries hidden within its graph and embark on a journey toward better hearing health. Audiograms are pivotal in ensuring the world remains a vibrant and inclusive soundscape for all, whether for newborns, children, adults, or occupational purposes. Audiograms will evolve as we advance technology and research, providing even more detailed and accurate information about an individual’s hearing abilities.

If you suspect any issues with your hearing or if you’re due for a routine hearing assessment, If you suspect any hearing issues or are due for a routine hearing assessment, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified audiologist. Remember, early detection and intervention can make a significant difference in managing and improving your hearing health.

The first step towards a better quality of life is scheduling a consultation with The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates hearing specialists. 

Book your appointment today to get started. 

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