Understanding Your Audiogram

How to read an audiogram

The audiogram is a graphical display of the hearing test. The two main components that are graphed are frequency and intensity. These results are displayed for each ear. When you had your hearing tested, the hearing aid practitioner was determining the softest sound you could hear at each specific frequency.

Frequency (or pitch) is measured in Hertz (Hz). Frequencies range from low-pitch to high-pitch and read from left to right on the audiogram. Each vertical line represents a different frequency. The ones used most often during testing are 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 8000 Hz.

Intensity is measured in decibels (dB). The intensity relates to how loud or soft a sound is. Each horizontal line represents a different intensity level. The softest sounds are at the top of the chart and the loudest sounds at the bottom. Each mark on an individual’s hearing test would represent the softest sounds they could hear. The softest intensity tested is typically 0 dB and the loudest is 120 dB.

Right Ear – Left Ear: The right ear is graphed with either a circle or triangle. The left ear is graphed with an X or a square. These responses would all represent the air conduction results of either the right or left ear.

Other symbols seen on the audiogram are obtained during bone conduction testing. The right ear is graphed with < or [. The left ear with > or ]. These responses can help determine whether a hearing loss is sensorineural or conductive.

Speech Testing: Speech discrimination or word recognition ability is scored as a percentage. This score represents how well a list of words could be repeated. The words are presented at a comfortable volume level with no background noise present.

Degrees of Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is classified in degrees of hearing from normal to profound. This classification is determined by the hearing threshold (or the softest a sound was heard at a specific frequency).

Normal hearing range

(0 – 20dB Hearing Threshold) – Your hearing levels are within the normal range. 0-15 dB thresholds are very good, with 20 dB considered borderline hearing loss.

mild hearing impairment

(21 – 40dB Hearing Threshold) – Soft noises are not heard. Understanding speech is difficult in a loud environment.

Moderate hearing loss

(41 – 65dB Hearing Threshold) – Significant hearing impairment. Soft and moderately loud noises are not heard. Understanding speech becomes very difficult if background noise is present.

Severe hearing loss

(66 – 90dB Hearing Threshold) – Conversations have to be conducted loudly. Group conversations are possible only with a lot of effort.

Profound Hearing Loss

(91+ dB Hearing Threshold) – Some very loud noises are heard. Without a hearing aid, communication is no longer possible even with intense effort.
how to read an audiogram