I have just completed my first full week at Sound Speech and Hearing Clinic. My orientation week focused on everything from Audiology to Speech-Language Pathology and even how to file insurance claims and write HICFAs (Health Insurance Claim Forms). A very important part of my orientation week was understanding hearing test audiograms.
An audiogram is a chart that graphically displays the softest sounds an individual can hear. The patient sits in a sound booth and listens to frequencies from low-pitches to high-pitches and the audiologists determines the softest sound heard at each frequency. The frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) and ranges from 125 – 8000 Hz. Frequency is found on the horizontal axis of the graph whereas intensity is on the vertical axis. Intensity is a measure of how loud or soft a sound is and is scaled in decibels (dB HL). The normal hearing threshold is between 0-20 dB HL and hearing loss varies from mild (beyond 20 dB HL) to profound (beyond 90 dB HL).
Both ears are tested independently and graphed individually. The right ear is graphed with a circle or triangle, and the left ear is graphed with a square or an X.
Audiograms allow audiologists to determine at what intensities one is hearing different frequencies. In the audiogram above, the right ear has normal hearing sensitivity, while the left hear has a mild hearing loss that slopes down into the severe hearing loss range.
Although audiograms are a very important visual representation of one's hearing thresholds, they are just one part of the hearing assessment; stay tuned for my next post about eardrums, the middle ear, and tympanograms!