The Audiogram

An audiogram is a diagram used by hearing professionals to show visually how well you can hear. An audiogram can show if you have hearing loss, what type of hearing loss you might have, and it can help identify an appropriate hearing solution.

Visualising Hearing Loss

An audiogram is a graph that shows the softest sounds that someone can hear at specific frequencies. High-pitched sounds, for example a bird singing or a child squealing, have a high frequency. Sounds at low frequencies have a lower pitch, such as a dog barking or the noise of a lawnmower.

During a hearing test, an audiologist plays tones, one frequency at a time. The softest tone that a person can hear at each frequency is marked on the audiogram. The chart below shows where everyday sounds would be on the audiogram.

Along the top of an audiogram, a range of sound frequencies is shown. As you move from left to right on the audiogram, the frequencies increase, which means the tones become higher pitched. On the left side of the audiogram, the loudness of a sound signal is depicted. As you move from top to bottom on the audiogram, the loudness increases.

Normal
Hearing

With normal hearing, you should be able to hear the softest sounds, such as a tap dripping or birds chirping, without any difficulty. These sounds have a loudness of around 0 to 20 decibels (dB).

What you should be hearing
Audiogram showing normal hearing

Mild
Hearing Loss

With mild hearing loss, you cannot hear many sounds softer than 21–40 dB. At this level, you can hear a person’s voice, which is about 65 dB, but not quieter sounds like a ticking clock, dripping faucet, or the softer sounds of speech.

What you should be hearing
What someone with mild hearing loss hears
Audiogram showing mild hearing loss

Moderate
Hearing Loss

With moderate hearing loss, you cannot hear sounds softer than 41–70 dB. This means that you may be unable to understand normal conversation or hear the ringing of a telephone. A moderate degree of hearing loss, if untreated, can affect your daily life in a significant way.

What you should be hearing
What someone with moderate hearing loss hears
 
Audiogram showing moderate hearing loss

Severe
Hearing Loss

With severe hearing loss, you cannot hear sounds softer than 71–90 dB. This means that you may not be able to hear sounds like loud conversation or traffic noise. Severe hearing loss will almost always have a big impact on a person’s daily life.

What you should be hearing
What someone with severe hearing loss hears
 
Audiogram showing severe hearing loss

Profound
Hearing Loss

Profound hearing loss is the most significant degree of hearing loss. With profound hearing loss, you cannot hear sounds softer than 91–120 dB or more. This means that you may not even be able to hear very loud sounds like airplane engines, trucks moving down the road, or fire alarms.

What you should be hearing
What someone with profound hearing loss hears
 
Audiogram showing profound hearing loss