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Hearing testing
  By Edward Storzer, M.Sc., Registered Audiologist
  The purpose of this article is to help our clients understand the “audiogram”, which is the graph that we use to chart the severity and the configuration of hearing loss. Often people wonder if it is possible to describe hearing loss in terms of a ‘percentage of loss’. Unfortunately, there is not a simple number that can be applied to any given hearing loss. The reason for this is that the severity of hearing loss can be different for different pitches of sound.

On the audiogram, frequencies (or pitch) are depicted from left to right in Hertz, going from 250 Hz (very low pitch) to 8000 Hz (very high pitch). These are different tones, and as we go from left to right, the frequency value gets higher and the tones are higherpitched. The amount of hearing loss is depicted from top to bottom, and is measured in decibels (loudness). Higher decibels are towards the bottom of the graph, and they represent greater hearing loss. Audiogram
We use circles to plot right ear Click graph to enlarge
hearing loss and crosses to plot left  
  ear hearing loss. These marks represent how loud a tone must be for the person to hear it in a quiet environment (in the sound booth). We can draw a line between the circles and crosses to show how hearing loss can slope up or down at different pitches. For example, if someone has a hearing loss that is more severe for high-pitch sounds, then the lines on the graph will slope downward as it moves from left (low tones) to right (high tones).

An individual may have hearing loss for all pitches, or he/she may have normal hearing for some tones and hearing loss for other tones. Many hearing loss configurations are possible, although some are more common than others. It is valuable for a person with hearing loss to understand which pitches of sound are difficult to hear because it can help them understand how hearing speech and other important sounds will be affected. In the graph below, the pitch and loudness of different English sounds is shown. The circles and crosses that are connected on this graph are an example of an audiogram. In this example, the speech sounds that are under (louder than) the left and right hearing levels will be hard by the individual but the speech sounds located above (softer than) the hearing levels indicated on the graph will not be heard by this individual.

Everyone that has a test at McNeill Audiology is given a copy of their audiogram. The audiogram can help explain the hearing difficulties you may experience in different situations. In addition, the configuration of the hearing loss on the audiogram is essential information when choosing and programming hearing aids. A hearing loss is far more complex than a ‘percentage of loss’. Understanding your audiogram can help you and your audiologist manage your hearing loss effectively.
  Science of hearing
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  Victoria BC, location - 250.370.2833
  Sidney BC, location - 250.656.2218
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