Hearing Evaluation – The Audiogram
An audiogram, or hearing test, is a key element during a hearing consultation. It is an objective way to show which sounds you hear well, and also which sounds you might have a harder time hearing. The audiogram is a very important tool that your Dallas Ear Institute professional uses as part of your recommendation plan. The audiogram is performed in a sound booth, which is a sound controlled setting that blocks out any surrounding noise and allows for accurate and precise hearing testing. There is no discomfort associated with an audiogram, though it does require you to respond to different types of sounds.
While wearing headphones and a bone conduction headband, you will listen to quiet sounds and indicate when you hear each one by pressing a button or raising your hand. You will also be asked to repeat words as you hear them. The sounds you hear vary in pitch from a deep bass to a high treble, measured on a “frequency scale” from 250 to 8000 Hz. This range is the most important for hearing of everyday sounds and speech. Lower frequency bass sounds have a lower number on the scale and higher pitched treble sounds have a higher number. The volume of each sound is adjusted until the softest level for each sound is detected. This level is called your hearing “threshold”.
Your hearing care professional will chart these thresholds on a table or graph, called an audiogram. The symbol “X” represents your left ear threshold, and the symbol “O” represents your right ear threshold at each frequency. The loudness, or volume, of the sound that was delivered are shown from top to bottom—the quietest sounds are at the top of the scale and the loudest sounds are at the bottom.
Your evaluation will also include a speech audiometry test. In this test, you will be asked to listen to and repeat a series of familiar words which become softer and softer. This will help determine your speech threshold, the softest level that you can recognize familiar two syllable words, like “baseball” or “hotdog”. Words will also be played at a comfortable conversational level to determine your word recognition score—how well you can understand speech if the volume is appropriate for your hearing. If necessary, other test can be performed to evaluate how well you understand speech in difficult or noisy environments.
Your hearing care professional may also perform tests to evaluate other aspects of your ear function to better understand your needs and provide appropriate recommendations. You will be informed of the results and interpretation of the hearing assessment during a consultation with your provider. You will also learn whether you have a hearing loss, its extent, and type. A hearing evaluation is the first step in guiding your hearing professional to the most appropriate treatment option for you. Once the type and degree of your hearing loss is determined, a consultation will be completed to determine the most appropriate solution for your lifestyle and listening needs.