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The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus

Mapping Your Audiogram
Kris English, Ph.D.

    Understanding   how to read your own audiogram will assist you in better understanding your personal hearing challenges. As with anything new, it will seem a little complicated, so this chapter breaks down its components for easier understanding. In my discussion with you, I will present “Mini-Summaries” of each section, provided throughout to review vocabulary and concepts, and occasionally “Audiogram Alerts” are provided to highlight a particular point of concern. In time, you will be an expert in describing your audiogram. Obtain a copy of your audiogram before reading this chapter, so we can work together in this exploration. You’ll have the opportunity to fill in the graph in Figure 3-2 with your audiogram once we get through enough of this chapter for you to understand what you’ll see.

An audiogram has three main components:
1.   A range of pitches, from low to high.
2.  A measurement of loudness, from soft to very loud.
3.   Your hearing levels for each pitch for each ear.

Another term used to describe these beeps is “pure tones.”  You may have noticed each beep was like a single note on a piano, with no chords or harmonics. The human ear can hear pure tones much lower and higher than the ones shown on the audiogram, but it would take too much time to test them all. For efficiency’s sake we focus on what people are most interested in hearing—human speech. So the pure tones found in human speech are selected for testing and are the ones reported on your audiogram.

     It may seem a little strange to say these pure tones have anything to do with human speech, but when analyzed electronically, each speech sound has been found to be a unique and complex combination of these pure tones. That’s why your hearing care professional started with pure tone testing, as a way to describe the “building blocks” of your hearing ability.