Understanding Your Hearing Test
When you get a standard hearing test you generally take at least two tests. One test results in a graph called a Pure Tone Audiogram. The other results in a percent correct score, the Speech Discrimination test.
The Pure Tone Audiogram
The vertical scale is in decibels of hearing loss. You can think of it like the earthquake Richter scale if you think of the numbers without the zeros (i.e.: 40 dB is like an earthquake of 4, and 70 dB is like an earthquake of 7). An earthquake of 4 is mild, while an earthquake of 7 is severe.
The horizontal scale is in frequencies. You can think of it like the keys on a piano. On the left side are the bass tones and to the right are the higher pitched tones.
Now, look at the two lines, your test results. Generally, the line through the red circles corresponds to the right ear and through the blue X's corresponds to the left ear.
The hearing loss at each tone can be described with words like: normal (0-20 dB), mild (30-40 dB), moderate (50-60dB), severe (70 dB) or profound (80+ dB).
Hearing a whisper: Nearly everyone with hearing loss down to 70-80 dB should be able to hear themselves whisper with today's hearing aids. If your hearing loss is at the moderate level you should be hearing the whispers of others as easily as a person your age with normal hearing.
The Speech Discrimination Test
The results of this test are recorded as a “%” on your hearing test form. The number is the percent of words you repeated back to the audiometrist correctly.
Normal speech discrimination is 100%, mild 85-95%, moderate 70-80%, poor 60-70%, very poor 40-50%, below 35% very severely impaired.
Understanding a Whisper: If your speech discrimination scores are above 70% you should be able to understand a whisper wearing hearing aids, even with a moderate level of background noise, without needing to see the speaker's face. At 60-70% you will probably need to see the speaker's face. Below 50%, you will hear, but have great difficulty understanding the whisper.