November 29, 2010

Read an Audiogram - How to Do It

I am going to attempt to explain how to read an audiogram in four simple sentences while using my audiogram as an example.

1. Understand that decibel (numbers running up and down left side of audiogram) means volume and frequency (numbers running across the top) refers to pitch or tone (high frequency: birds whistling, low frequency: a big dog barking).

2. Typically, a profound hearing loss is 90 or above decibels, a severe hearing loss is 60-90 decibels, a moderate hearing loss is 40-60 decibels, a mild hearing loss is 25-40 decibels, slight hearing loss is 15-25 decibels, and normal hearing would be in the -10-15 decibels range.

3. The red or black "O" markings signify the right ear, the blue or black "X" markings signify the left ear.

4. The area above the "O" and "X" line markings represent types of frequencies that you will have trouble hearing, depending on the hearing loss in decibels (line markings in the 'profound' areas mean that you will have a lot of trouble hearing or a profound hearing loss in the frequency areas above; moderate loss range you will have some trouble hearing in the frequency ranges indicated above).

*  *  *  *

Looking at my audiogram below, you will see that I have a profound hearing loss in my left ear (X markings) in the high frequency areas around 750 - 8,000 Hz and a moderate-severe hearing loss in the lower frequencies around 125 -700 Hz. My right ear (red O markings) has normal hearing in the lower frequencies around 125 -700 Hz, and then takes a nosedive into the severe range in the higher frequencies.

If you look at the chart below with the pictures, it will give you a better idea of what kinds of sounds are created in each frequency areas. According to the chart, in both ears I will not hear or have a lot of trouble hearing soft speech sounds such as "k" "s" "t" "sh" and whispering and birds whistling. I can hear some of these sounds with my hearing aid on.

Next time, I will ask for an aided audiogram (test with my hearing aid on) to see how much hearing gain I get from it.

*It is important to note that hearing test results can vary on different factors, such as how your hearing was tested and if you have a cold (clogged ears). I have seen slight differences in results from two different audiologist or hearing evaluators within a short time. While audiograms are not always 100% accurate in describing how someone hears, they are very useful tools in helping us understand how we hear.

My Audiogram

Created using Audiogram Creator
Blank Audiogram with Pictures

*Audiogram with pictures from Hands and Voices

(which Hands and Voices used with permission from Used with author’s permission from “Hearing in Children, authored by J.Northern and M.Downs, (5th Edition,pg18,2002), Lippincott Williams and Wilkins Publishers, Baltimore, MD.)

*Note: The degrees of hearing loss is different according to various people and organizations. The decibels in relation to degrees of hearing loss I provided above are what I have been told by most (why I stressed the word 'typically').



  1. waaay cool post; I've never seen that illustration before. My left ear audiogram is a no-brainer with x's straight across the bottom of the chart, vertically & horizontally...yikes. I need to look at my most recent (September) audiogram and compare it to that neat little illustration. Maybe then I can explain to my husband how I hear, ha

  2. Hi (e,
    My friend Steve has just posted a cool audiogram creator tool at his website. Here's the link

  3. Oops, I think I messed up the link a bit. It should stop before the #comment part.

  4. Your explanation was nice and simple. Audiograms are super complex. Too many people think of them in linear terms but hearing is multi-dimensional. I wrote up an explanation a few years back at the SayWhatClub blog. Here it is Mine is much longer. I really admire your attempt at simplifying.

    The real life example you used reminds me of a guy who used to tell me he was 'deaf in on ear and couldn't hear in the other.' His joke, but if I could match an audiogram to it maybe that would be the one.

  5. Thank you for this information :)

  6. Deaf people easily get to know the actual reason of their deafness with the help of audiogram and this post contain lots of information regarding audiogram. Its really a great post with full of information.


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