Audiograms are graphs displaying the results of a pure-tone hearing test. More specifically, they show how loud sounds need to be at different frequencies (or pitches) for you to hear them. They are an easy way to visualize your hearing ability and compare it to a normal hearing range. So, what does a normal audiogram look like?
What Does a Normal Hearing Person’s Audiogram Look Like?
An audiogram shows the severity (degree) and the pattern of your hearing loss in the form of a graph.
The Y axis shows the loudness of the sound in decibels, with lines at the top of the chart for lower dB soft sounds (such as a ticking clock) and lines at the bottom for higher dB loud sounds (such as a lawnmower).
The X axis shows the frequency/pitch. This is measured in Hertz (Hz). Human speech usually falls between 250Hz and 6000Hz.
For an adult, ‘normal’ hearing ranges from 0 – 20 decibels (dB) in all frequencies. Above 20 dB is classed as a hearing loss, and a greater decibel value indicates a greater level of severity. Mild hearing loss is present in the 20 – 40 dB range and severe loss is shown at 71-90 dB.
For example, if you have 30 dB hearing loss at 1000 Hz then you have mild hearing loss and may have difficulty hearing softer sounds like quiet conversations or whispering at that pitch. Or, if you have 85 dB hearing loss, then even louder sounds like a vacuum cleaner (which measures up to 70 dB of noise) will be difficult to hear.
A completely ‘normal’ audiogram test would mean no hearing difficulties have been picked up by the hearing test. If this is the case, all your plot points will be at the top of the graph as you’ll be able to hear soft sounds at different frequencies.
Nevertheless, hearing loss is not a straightforward ‘yes or no’ condition where you either have it or you don’t.
Your audiogram might reveal that you hear some sounds normally, but not others. This is often the case when you have some degree of hearing loss. For example, you might be able to hear low pitches just fine, but not high pitches. As speech is usually spoken at a higher pitch, you might be able to hear it, but not fully understand what is being said.
How Often Should You Get a Hearing Test? Why?
If you notice sudden hearing loss or experience a gradual loss of hearing that’s persistent or getting worse – it’s time to get your hearing checked.
However, you shouldn’t just wait until there’s a problem to get your ears tested.
Babies are routinely screened for hearing problems in the first few days after birth, which will indicate a congenital hearing loss. Young children will also have their hearing checked if an early acquired hearing loss is suspected by a family member or physician.
It’s important that adults over the age of 21 have their hearing checked too!
If you’ve never had a hearing test as an adult, consider scheduling one soon. Even if there’s nothing wrong with your hearing, your results now can serve as a useful comparison when you’re older and may start to encounter issues.
Generally, if you don’t have hearing loss, it is recommended that you get tested every 10 years until you’re 50, and after that, every three years. This will give you these helpful comparative tests and alert you to any gradual hearing loss that is developing.
If you don’t feel the need for a comprehensive hearing test, you should still be able to ask your physician for a quick hearing screening — a pass or fail hearing test used to check if you require further tests.
While taking a hearing test to see if you have hearing health is great initiative on your part, the absolute best thing you can do is to always be aware of your hearing health and actively work to protect it. Not all types of hearing loss can be prevented, but it is by far the best way to reduce the risk!
Effective precautions you can take include:
- Listening to music at a safe level (never more than 60% of the maximum volume on your device) and not for more than one hour at a time
- Wearing ear protection during loud events and activities
- Taking a break every 15 minutes when you’re exposed to loud noise
- Taking safety precautions when working in a noisy environment such as wearing ear protection and implementing safety training
- Getting your hearing tested and accessing treatment to prevent your hearing loss from worsening or causing other health problems
A quick online test can also indicate whether you need to see your physician about your hearing.
Although it does not replace the need for a professional hearing test, the Olive Hearing Test only takes five minutes and is a fun, quick way to start your hearing health journey today!
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: