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Audiogram

Audiogram

  Audiogram is a diagnostic test which assesses an individual’s ability to hear sounds  based on the intensity (loudness) and the tone of the sound (the vibration speed of the sound waves).

As we know, the perception of sounds occurs when the waves stimulate the nerves of the inner ear and eventually reach the pathways to the brain. The waves can reach the inner ear in two ways:

  • through ear conduction, from the ear canal, through the eardrums and bones of the middle ear.
  • through bone conduction (bones around and behind the ear).Audiogram_Small

By definition, sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). For instance:

  • A plane engine is about 140-180 dB
  • Music concerts are about 80-120 dB
  • Soft whispers are about 20 dB

A few hours of over 85 dB sound intensity can cause hearing loss, and louder sounds can cause pain and result in hearing loss in a short time.

When it comes to the tone of sound, it is measured in Hertz, cps or cycles per second. For instance:

  • High-pitched tones range from 10,000 Hz and higher
  • Low bass tones range about 50-60 Hz

Human hearing ability can range from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, while some animals can hear up to 50,000 Hz. Human voice rates from 500 to 3,000 Hz.

Audiogram Test

Audiogram involves blocking one ear at a time and assessing the ability to hear different sets of sounds, such as whispers and spoken words. Some traditional methods use a tuning fork, tapped and held on each side of the head, in order to test the ability to hear from another conduct (air conduction).

Audiogram tests make use of headphones, providing a more precise measuring technique. The tones are controlled from a player, and the patient is instructed to press a button to indicate when he/she hears the sound.

Additionally, a bone oscillator is used to test bone conduction, placed in each mastoid bone (behind the ear).

The test takes about one hour, it requires no particular preparation and causes zero discomfort or pain.

Audiogram is performed to detect hearing loss, some common causes for this condition include:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Acoustic trauma
  • Inner ear diseases
  • Head injury
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Medications such as antibiotics, diuretics and salicylates
  • Occupational hearing loss
  • Ruptured eardrum

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