Do you feel you might be missing something in your conversations with others? Don’t ignore these problems – find out what’s causing them. Visit your local hearing specialist for a simple hearing test and possible hearing aid help. Hearing tests quickly show if hearing loss is present.

If so, the next step is to learn what kind of loss you may have and the severity or degree of hearing impairment. A device called an audiometer is used to test each ear’s response to the most common frequencies needed to understand human speech. The result of the hearing test is shown in an audiogram.

Your hearing care professional is an expert at interpreting the audiogram, which is a type of graph. Pitches or sound frequencies are arranged along the bottom, while loudness is indicated on the vertical axis. The softest sounds are at the top and the loudest at bottom. The letter “O” shows right ear sound responses and “X” represents the left. The higher on the graph that the letters appear, the softer the sounds are being heard.

Diagnosing hearing loss and determining severity

The audiogram graph shows how well or poorly each ear can hear a sampling of the most common pitches needed for clearly hearing and understanding speech. Your specialist interprets the graphs, where normal hearing is shown as a straight line. Minor variations are considered normal, but large variances below normal mean that hearing is impaired. Depending on the graph’s shape, your hearing specialist can identify the type of hearing loss you have and what might have been the cause.

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