Patient Focused Hearing Solutions

How Are Audiometry Tests Interpreted?

an audiologist is reviewing a patient's audiogram

Hearing loss is something that is experienced by millions of people all over the world. This is especially true for older people with 25% of patients over the age of 50 experiencing some degree of hearing loss and the same for 50% of patients over the age of 80. Of course, hearing loss can impact people at any time in their life including childhood.

Hearing loss is something that people can experience for a wide variety of reasons including an ear infection, tinnitus, an injury to the inner ear, certain medication or even a variety of neurological factors. Whatever the cause of any form of hearing loss, it is essential to get properly screened so that you can take any steps necessary to achieve the highest possible quality of life.

Hearing screening is an essential part of remaining healthy for many people and the most common procedure used in order to screen for any potential hearing loss is an audiometry test.

What is audiometry screening?

An audiometry test is a very simple procedure that is often carried out by an audiologist or other healthcare professional. This test is carried out if you find yourself in a position where you're experiencing a sense of diminished hearing, or you notice the signs of hearing loss in someone else.

The process of an audiometry test often features what is referred to as pure-tone audiometry. Simply put, an audiometry exam tests your ability to hear sounds. Sounds can vary based on their intensity and tone. Intensity refers to the loudness of the sound, measured in decibels (dB) and tone refers to the speed of sound wave vibrations and is measured in cycles per second or Hertz (Hz). A more intense sound will be louder while a sound with higher Hz will have a higher pitch.

The test itself involves you putting on a pair of headphones that are attached to the audiometer. At this point, pure tones are delivered to your ears, one ear at a time and you are asked to signal when you hear a sound. Both the tone and intensity of the sound are varied and the minimum volume required to hear each tone is graphed. 

You will also have a device that is called a bone oscillator placed against the mastoid bone. This is used to test and measure bone conduction, which can also impact your ability to hear.

This is the most common form of audiometry test but there are others that your audiologist may perform. Speech audiometry is designed to test your ability to detect and repeat spoken words at various different volumes through a headset. Immittance audiometry measures the function of your eardrum and the flow of sound through your middle ear. This test involves a probe being inserted into your ear and air is then pumped through it in order to change the pressure within your ear as tones are produced. A microphone is then used to monitor how well sound is conducted within your ear under the various different levels of pressure.

In order to make sure that the test results are as clear as accurate as possible, an audiologist will ensure work hard to ensure that space, where the test is conducted, is as quiet as possible.

How is the test interpreted?

Audiometry tests are generally interpreted using something called an audiogram. An audiogram is used to verify both the type of hearing loss that you may be experiencing as well as the severity to which you are experiencing it.  It also provides information that can help your audiologist determine what the best course of action is for you moving forward.

After the test, the results are plotted onto a graph where low to high frequencies on the horizontal X-axis and volume on the vertical Y-axis. The results of the test for the right ear are marked with a red O and the left ear is marked with a blue X. The results of the bone conduction test are also marked on the graph using a right-facing bracket for the left ear.

Your audiologist will then interpret the results based on the ranges for normal hearing, mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss and profound hearing loss and decide the best possible course of action for you.

If you have any questions, concerns, or you feel as though you may require an audiometry screening you can get in touch and learn more about Advanced Audiology Services LLC call today at 810-388-9400 in order to make sure that you get the possible treatment.