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Understanding your audiogram

A simple guide to the audiogram—what it is, what it shows, and how to read it.

What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is used by our audiologists to graph your or your child’s responses to sound during hearing tests. The audiogram is a visual way to show how well you or your child can hear. On an audiogram, levels of hearing are categorised by severity.

Hearing levels

The general categories of hearing and hearing loss are as follows:

  • Normal hearing: you can hear sounds at every pitch at a soft level.
  • Mild hearing loss: you can hear most speech sounds from a close distance.
  • Moderate hearing loss: you may hear louder sounds in speech.
  • Severe hearing loss: you may hear loud environmental sounds.
  • Profound hearing loss: you may hear extremely loud sounds.

The diagram below indicates where sounds are commonly heard on the audiogram. It includes the speech sounds, as well as a range of sounds in the environment.

Image shows a chart with points plotted to show what sounds are commonly heard at particular coordinates. The horizontal axis shows pitch by frequency of sound measured in hertz (Hz). Values start at 125Hz and go up to 8,000Hz. The right vertical axis shows volume measured by decibels (dB). Values start at 120dB and go up to 0dB. The sound of leaves is measured at between 0 to 10db and 1000 to 2000Hz. A dripping tap is measured at between 10 to 20dB and 250Hz. The sound of birds is measured at 30dB and between 4000 to 8000Hz. The sound of chatter is measured at 50dB and 1000Hz. The sounds of particular letters are measured at various points between 10 and 60dB and between 250 and 8000Hz. The sound of a vacuum cleaner is measured at 60dBand between 2000 and 4000Hz. The sound of a dog barking is measured at 70dB and 250Hz. The sound of music is measured at between 70 and 80dB and 1000Hz. The sounds of a phone ringing is measured at between 70 and 80dB and just over 2000Hz. The sound of a lawnmower is measured at between 90 and 100dB and 500Hz. The sound of a motorbike is measured at 100dB and between 4000 and 8000Hz. The sound of a jackhammer is measured at between 110 and 120db and 250Hz. The sound of an electric guitar is measured at between 110 and 120db and 1000Hz. The sound of an aeroplane is measured at between 110 and 120db and 4000Hz. The left vertical axis shows the level of hearing and hearing loss according to where sounds are heard on the chart.  Results between 0 and 20dB is normal hearing, between 20 and 40dB is mild hearing loss, between 40 and 70dB is moderate hearing loss, between 70 and 90dB is severe hearing loss and between 90 and 120dB is profound hearing loss.

Reading your audiogram

The numbers across the top indicate frequency (pitch, measured in ‘Hertz’), which increases from left to right, like keys on a piano. The numbers along the left side indicate the level of intensity of sound (volume, measured in decibels).

To measure your level of hearing, our audiologist will ask you or your child to respond to a series of tones. Your hearing threshold—the softest sound you can hear—is found by decreasing the volume until you can no longer hear the tones. The process is repeated for both ears across the entire frequency range.

Thresholds may be plotted for both ears as two separate lines on your audiogram. Circles indicate your right ear thresholds and crosses your left ear thresholds, as shown in the diagram below.

Images shows an audiogram chart with two lines plotting thresholds at which the person heard the tones. Lines with round circles indicates results the right ear, and the lines with the crosses indicates results for the left ear.  All points and lines are plotted in the severe to profound range of hearing loss.

After your audiogram

If the audiogram results indicate severe to profound hearing loss, you or your child may be considered a candidate for a cochlear implant. Our expert team can work with you to access any services you or your child might need. The examples above show an simplified example of an audiogram. The results for your or your child can include additional detail and symbols which your audiologist or doctor can explain to you.

If you have questions about cochlear implants, please contact our Client Care Team who are happy to help.

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