Hearing Tests and Audiograms: A Quick Guide


While children are given frequent hearing tests to track their development, it’s harder for adults to determine when they have hearing loss. If you think you might need an audiogram, this guide can give you a better idea of what to expect.

It can be difficult to spot hearing loss, especially in yourself. Many people learn to ignore the symptoms and become shocked when they finally discover the depth of the issue. If you frequently find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, have trouble hearing clearly in loud rooms, or have to amp up the volume on your television or phone, you might be suffering from some form of hearing loss.

Before you can begin alleviating the problem, you have to diagnose it with a hearing test. This is a non-invasive procedure that gives audiologists a good judgement of your hearing levels.

How does a hearing test work?

There are several steps to a hearing test, and you might receive one or more of these. An audiologist might examine your ear canal and eardrum with a special tool, just to spot any visible issues. Next, your hearing will be tested.

For a pure-tone test, you will be given a pair of headphones. This test will gauge your ability to hear pure tones. The sounds will be played for you, and the test will determine how well you can hear them. The speech test is similar, only you will be played a number of speech-sounds. Then, you will be asked to repeat what has been said.

Usually, this is done with a series of consonant sounds. An inability to hear consonant sounds is a sign that someone is hard of hearing. If your hearing problems are linked to hearing loss, you might be unable to understand certain sounds. However, some people have issues understanding speech and don’t suffer from hearing loss at all. This test can help differentiate between the two groups.

What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is a graphic that displays your hearing levels. For many people, it is easier to understand than a series of test results and gives them a visual demonstration of their results. Audiograms usually come in the form of graphs, and you might be given a physical copy of this graph.

This graph will have your hearing level and the frequency of the test sound (measured in Hz). Two lines will indicate your results on the graph. These two lines represent your hearing levels in both your left and right ears. Chances are, they fluctuate along the graph depending on what frequency was being played.

How do I read an audiogram?

The lower your lines go, the less you were able to hear the sounds being played. Your ears may display different results, or you might have a symmetrical loss of hearing in both ears. Your audiogram might have markers on the right side that will help you understand your results, and your audiologist should explain further.

These markers indicate the severity of your hearing loss. Hearing loss ranges from mild, moderate, severe, to profound. Hearing levels between 0-25 are normal, but a score of 30 might indicate mild hearing loss. Profound hearing loss occurs when your hearing levels drop below 90.

Why should I get a hearing test?

Your aural health is important, especially if you are frequently exposed to loud/high-pitched noises. Getting your hearing tested can identify problems with your hearing before they begin affecting your life. If you have problems with your hearing, these tests can also help you determine whether or not you’re compatible with hearing aids.

Hesitant about getting tested by a professional? Online options like Signia’s Hearing Test can give you a quick look into your hearing levels. If your results aren’t great, consider reaching out to a trained audiologist for a more thorough examination.