How to Interpret an Audiogram From a Hearing Test

Author's Audiogram
Jamie Berke

The next time you have a hearing test, you don't have to be bewildered by the audiogram you are given. Here is an easy-to-understand explanation of how to read your audiogram.

The Y- and X-Axes

An audiogram is set up as a chart with the horizontal X-axis representing frequencies, or Hertz (Hz). The X-axis is divided into two parts: On the left side of the "divide" are the low frequencies. On the right side of the "divide" are the high frequencies.

The vertical Y axis represents decibels. Decibels represent the hearing level, or how loud it is. The number of decibels are lower at the top of the chart, and get higher as you go downward. It is divided into three parts: The top part of the chart is the softer sounds, the middle part is the moderate sounds, and the bottom part is the louder sounds.

The audiologist tests your hearing at a range of frequencies. The audiologist is checking to see what the softest sound you can hear at each frequency is. For example, at 125 Hz you may be able to only hear the sound at 50 decibels.

How to Read a Completed Audiogram

A completed audiogram will have Xs and Os on it. Each X stands for your left ear. Each O stands for your right ear. Look at the audiogram to see where the Xs and Os line up with the decibel axis.

  • Normal-hearing people will have Xs and Os that don't go above 20 decibels.
  • People with a mild hearing loss will have Xs and Os in the 20 to the 40-decibel range.
  • A moderate loss is 40 to 60 decibels.
  • Severe hearing loss falls in the 60 to 80-decibel range.
  • A profound hearing loss is anything greater than 80 decibels.

Looking at my own audiogram (pictured), it is obvious that my own hearing loss is very profound, literally falling off the chart.

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