Back to Basics: Understanding Your Hearing Test

After your initial appointment with Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute, you will leave with a graph depicting the results of your hearing test. There are a lot of symbols and colors, but what do they all mean?

The graph you received is called an Audiogram. The audiogram shows two things: Pitch and Volume.

  • Across the top of the graph is pitch. The left side is low pitch, the right side it high pitch, kind of like a piano keyboard.
  • Down the side of the graph is volume.  The top is very soft, the bottom is very loud.
  • You will also see the degrees of hearing loss as shaded sections ranging from NORMAL hearing to a PROFOUND hearing loss. The further down the graph, the more hearing loss is present.

On your print out of the audiogram, there will be O symbols for the right ear and X symbols for the left ear.  You may also see these color coded as red for right and blue for left.

  • These symbols correspond to the softest sound you can hear at each of the pitches when we had you in the sound booth.  You hear everything BELOW the symbols.
  • The graph example below shows that the patient hears in the NORMAL in the low pitches and SEVERE in the highest pitches.
  • The lower pitch sounds generally correspond with the Vowels of speech, which give volume
  • The higher pitch sounds generally correspond with the consonants of speech, which give clarity.
  • For patients with more hearing loss in the higher pitches, they will generally HEAR that someone is talking but may not UNDERSTAND exactly what is being said.

Below this graph will test your speech understanding. We test two aspects of speech.

  • The first is your Speech Reception Threshold or SRT, which measures the softest level of speech in which you can repeat words
  • The second is your Word Recognition Score. This is a percentage of how many words you repeated correctly at a comfortable volume. We use this to test optimal performance understanding speech WITHOUT the presence of noise.

All of these components are reviewed during your appointments with us at JHBI.  We use the combination of how soft you are hearing tones, combined with your speech understanding, to determine if you would benefit from hearing aids or implantable devices.

We like to repeat your hearing test once per year, sooner if you feel necessary, to monitor any changes in hearing and word understanding. If you think your hearing has changed, or think you would benefit from hearing aids, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment.

What to Expect When You are New to Hearing Aids

1. During an appointment with your audiologist, expect a thorough assessment to determine the severity of your hearing loss and a detailed discussion about your lifestyle, hearing priorities, and budget to help determine what hearing aids are best for you.

2. Expect an adjustment period when you first begin to wear hearing aids. Hearing loss typically occurs over time, and it can take time for your brain to become accustomed to all the sounds you are now hearing again. The world is a very noisy place and you may notice sounds you didn’t realize you were missing such as your footsteps when walking, running water from the faucet & the quiet hum of the refrigerator. After wearing the hearing aids for a week or two, all of those ambient sounds will become less prominent to you. The more you wear hearing aids, the quicker you will adjust!

3. Expect them to “whistle” as you put them in your ears. Once they are in your ears, the whistling should stop.

4. Expect to take care of your hearing aids! The better care that is taken of them, the longer they will last. It is as simple as routine nightly cleaning. Wiping them down with a tissue every night will go a long way!

5. Expect a new technology to be developed every couple of years. You can speak with your audiologist to determine if new technology would be beneficial for you. Just as any other electronic device, they do not last forever and will eventually wear out.

Purchasing hearing aids is a big adjustment to your life but with these few pointers to get you started, you are on your way to better hearing!