What it is, how to read it, and what it means to you.
Dr. Ryan Leahy, Doctor of Audiology
Most people can hear sounds at some pitches, but not others! Let’s look at the MOST COMMON type of hearing loss… pictured at right.
How can this be? How can this person, with this severe hearing loss, think that they have totally normal hearing? We look to the audiogram for our answer.
The numbers running up and down on the left side of the graph represent loudness in decibels (dB). The bigger the number, the louder the sound! If all the X’s and O’s are up towards the top of the graph, the person is considered to have normal hearing. If the X’s and O’s are found towards the bottom of the graph, then the person has severe hearing loss.
Now that we know how to read the audiogram, let’s consider again our initial question: How can a person with severe hearing loss have no idea that their hearing is bad? Let’s look at the graph.
Okay, so the patient can hear dogs barking, but not birds chirping. So what, right? Well, it turns out high-pitched hearing loss has major consequences in understanding speech.
“ah” like in the word “wash”
“oh” like in the word “boat”
“oo” like in the word “loot”
This patient can hear those sounds without any issue. They can hear the “vowels” of speech very well! Here are some sounds they CANNOT hear well at all:
“sh” or “t” like in the words, “sheet” or “shirt”
“f” or “ch” like in the word “fetch”
Hearing aids from Hearing Solutions of Indiana are custom programmed to each patient’s specific and unique audiogram. If we look one more time at our audiogram here, it becomes clear that making all sounds louder would simply not work for this patient. This patient had unique needs. We programmed a set of hearing aids that boosted the volume of the higher-pitches by a lot, the middle pitches by a little, and the lower pitches were left alone. The result: Crisp, natural sound quality, increased speech understanding in all situations, and increased quality of life for the patient. Once this patient tried our hearing aids for the first time, they never looked back.