What is an Audiogram?

When you first meet with a hearing care professional, one of the tools they will use to help diagnose and determine treatment for your hearing loss is the audiogram. The audiogram is a visual report of your hearing and it displays which frequencies you can hear and at what volume. Below is an example of an audiogram report:

Audiogram

Across the top on the X-access, the measurement hertz (Hz) shows the pitch or frequency of the sounds you can hear. Examples of low frequency sounds are a tuba and the vowel sound “oo”. High frequency examples are a bird chirping or the consonant sound “s”. The vertical, Y-access on the graph measures decibels (dB). Decibel measures sound loudness. At the top are quieter sounds such as whispering and louder sounds such as a lawn mower or snow blower are at the bottom of the graph. Finally, a red O indicates the right ear and the blue X indicates the left ear. The visual plot of the results helps the audiologist determine what types of sounds you can and cannot hear well. Normal hearing is typically between the range of -10 and 20 dB.

A hearing care professional may use two different techniques to measure your hearing for an audiogram. First, headphones are used to test how well the sound travels through the ear canal. Next, a hearing care professional may use a bone-conduction vibrator. A bone-conduction vibrator is a device that gently rests on the bone behind the ear and allows sound vibrations to bypass the outer and middle ear so that the inner ear can be tested directly. These techniques together help the hearing care provider determine where the hearing loss is occurring.

During the appointment your hearing care professional will walk you through the audiogram and explain the results. The audiogram and other audiology diagnostic tools help your hearing care professional determine the proper care and hearing aid treatment for your unique situation.