When carrying out a hearing test, your hearing instrument specialist will use an audiogram to collate the results. Considered to be the gold standard of hearing tests, an audiogram is over 92% accurate. What’s more – having your hearing function evaluated via an audiogram offers 94% in terms of specificity when assessing sensorineural hearing.
Due to the high rate of accuracy offered by audiograms, they are routinely used to assess hearing function. In fact, when you visit your hearing instrument specialist for a hearing test, it is highly likely they will use an audiogram to determine whether you have hearing loss.
What is an audiogram?
An audiogram is a special type of graph which is used to facilitate hearing tests. Although the term, audiogram technically refers to the graph a hearing instrument specialist uses to plot the results of your test, the term is commonly used to refer to the test itself. In the medical community, however, the technical term for this type of hearing test is a pure tone test or pure tone audiogram test.
An audiogram graph charts decibels vertically, with louder sounds being positioned at the bottom and quieter sounds at the top. The frequency of sounds is attributed to the horizontal aspect of the chart, with low frequency sounds on the left and high frequency sounds on the right.
Once a hearing test is complete, you will notice blue crosses and red circles on the chart itself. These represent the results of your hearing test. While the test is in progress, the hearing instrument specialist will record the results using blue crosses to represent the left ear and red circles to represent the right ear.
As each ear can have a different level of hearing function, it’s important that the hearing function in each ear is accurately tested. By using two different symbols to record your results, hearing instrument specialists can clearly differentiate between hearing function in either ear.
How is an audiogram carried out?
If you’re visiting a hearing instrument specialist (HIS) for a hearing test, you may want to know what to expect. Before carrying out the test, your hearing instrument specialist will ask you about your hearing and any symptoms you may be experiencing. If you’ve had a hearing test before, they may ask you if you have noticed any changes in your hearing function too. In addition to this, a hearing instrument specialist will look at your ears an otoscope.
Before the test starts, you will be asked to wear headphones and your hearing instrument specialist will explain exactly how the test works. Testing one ear at a time, your audiologist will play a variety of sounds at different volumes. You will be asked to indicate when you can hear a sound. This is usually done by asking you to press a button when you hear a sound.
Based on your response, your hearing instrument specialist will monitor your hearing function. When you are unable to hear a sound at a volume, the hearing instrument specialist will plot it on the audiogram chart. This enables them to assess what your hearing function is and whether you are experiencing hearing loss.
Furthermore, an audiogram also enables hearing instrument specialists to assess what type of hearing loss you are experiencing. If there are left crosses in the top left of your audiogram, for example, it may indicate that hear low frequency sounds at a low volume in your left ear.
What is the best type of hearing test?
Audiograms are most commonly used to assess hearing function and identify hearing loss. As well as being highly accurate, they can be performed relatively quickly and are non-invasive. This means you can complete the test in your hearing instrument specialist’s office in just one appointment. In most cases, an audiogram won’t take longer than around 20 minutes to complete.
Although there are numerous other tests that can be used to assess hearing function, these aren’t always required. In many instances, individuals can obtain a diagnosis and subsequent treatment based on the results of an audiogram test alone. Of course, should you need additional testing to assess hearing function or identify hearing problems, this can be arranged.
Following an audiogram test, your hearing instrument specialist may adjust your hearing aids or offer advice regarding hearing devices that are suitable for your needs. To learn more about hearing tests or to speak to a hearing instrument specialist today, contact Nu-Life Hearing Centre now at 905-697-3838.