Hearing testing has not changed much since the 1940's. The only real difference is that our equipment has gotten more sensitive. The Tinnitus and Hearing clinic uses the Equinox and Titan from interacoustics. The most advanced equipment available and enables testing up to 20,000 Hz instead of the standard 8000 Hz.
When we test, we produce a graph but what does it really tell us?
It give us the "hearing loss."----I hate the term hearing loss!
The majority of damage to the ear or "hearing loss" in most people are in the higher frequencies. Yet the low frequencies determine how loud we hear things. Things like people walking up behind us, cars coming, calling our names.
So our ability to determine loudness or what we consider hearing is fine. Most people with a "hearing loss" "hear" as well as people without a hearing loss!
What is impaired is communication. You can hear most things; you just have to work harder. And who wants to work that hard all the time?
It’s tiring. And made more difficult in situations like noise or people who speak with an accent or a soft squeaky voice. And then you tune out. Then it's a problem. In fact fatigue is probably the most common hearing problem symptom.
An audiogram represents primarily the function of the ear. 10% of hearing is done here. The other 90% is done between the ears. But we still produce a standard audiogram looks like this:
Hearing level is in decibels. This is a logarithmic scale, like the richer scale, rather than a linear scale. Frequency is across the bottom. The low pitched bass sounds are the lower numbers the high pitched treble are the higher numbers.
The X's represent the left ear and the O's the right. Before photocopiers, the right was always red and the left always blue. A normal graph would have all the X's and O's above 15 dB (We have changed the bar. It used to be 20 and many people still use that level. But like golf, the lower the level, the better. A normal graph would look like this:
Below is the most common type of hearing loss. It is a high frequency loss that is caused by noise, medications (ototoxicity) or genetics. Old age does not cause hearing loss- Living does!
If your hearing acuity is normal that does not mean that your hearing is normal. You can still have an auditory processing disorder. See our page on Auditory processing disorders for more information.