Undergoing hearing examinations to confirm your diagnosis and find the best management plan is vital for anyone who experiences hearing loss. While an audiologist will guide you through the entire process, a basic understanding of your results will be hugely beneficial. Better still, equipping yourself with this info before attending your hearing exams can make the audiology appointment a less anxious experience. Here’s all you need to know.
How to Read the Results of Your Hearing Exams
Firstly, you should know that your audiologist may conduct a variety of hearing exams during your appointment. Speech testing, pure tone testing, tympanometry, auditory brainstem response (ABR) and acoustic reflex testing are some of the commonly used solutions.
Many of the hearing exams involve sitting in a booth with headphones on. You will then press a button when a sound is heard, which will then record all data and plot the results on an audiogram. It covers both sound frequency and decibel (dBs) hearing levels.
A red line with circles will indicate the results of your right ear and a blue line with crosses shows the left ear. The audiologist will tell you whether each recorded mark is considered healthy hearing or not.
Hearing Loss Levels Explained
Everyone has a unique hearing profile, but hearing is split into four categories. Your hearing will be considered healthy if you fall above the 25dBs line. The four levels of hearing loss, however, are:
- Mild hearing loss: Between the 25-40dBs line
- Moderate hearing loss: Between 41-55dBs line.
- Severe hearing loss: Between 56-90dBs.
- Profound hearing loss: Anything more than 90dBs.
Hearing loss will only get progressively worse, but an audiologist can help manage the situation with hearing aids to restore a sense of normality to your daily life. The severity of loss will determine which types of hearing aids – behind the ear (BTE), in the ear (ITE) and in the canal (ITC) – are deemed suitable.
Hearing Loss Types Explained
As well as understanding the different levels of hearing loss, it’s important to know the various types that you may encounter. For starters, you could have hearing loss in either ear or both ears. When it happens in both ears, it may be symmetrical or unsymmetrical.
The three main types of hearing loss are defined as:
- Conductive hearing loss: There is an issue with the way sound is conducted to the inner ear. This may be permanent or temporary while it could be caused by otosclerosis, infections and other issues.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: It is caused by an issue with the sensory receptors, which could be due to age, damage to the inner ear hairs or congenital aspects. This is usually a permanent condition.
- Mixed: A combination of the two above.
Understanding the type and severity of hearing loss will give your audiologist the best chance of finding the right management plan. With the right testing, the results will also determine which sounds you can or can’t hear, as well as any underlying issues that may have caused your hearing loss.
To find out more, book an audiology appointment today.