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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Audiogram in Color

Clever Steve of the Deafness and Hearing Aids blog has unveiled a new Audiogram Creator tool he made. I used it to create this picture for you. I hope it will help illustrate my level of hearing loss. The blue x indicates my left ear's performance and the red circle indicates my right ear's. This is the result from my first hearing test four years ago. My audiologist says my more recent audiograms haven't changed significantly.

I recently had someone look at my audiogram and he told me I was in pretty good shape for someone with hearing loss, that he could see why my hearing loss had gone undetected for some time, and that he could understand why I didn't want to use my hearing aids in certain situations. As you can see from the diagram above, I do have quite a bit of hearing in the normal range. The troublesome part for me is the high frequencies where the consonants fall.

Recently I had a relative introduce me to her friends as someone who had suddenly lost her hearing. Inwardly, I cringed a bit at that. I think it would be more accurate to say instead that I learned of my hearing loss in a sudden manner. Mainly because I was oblivious and in denial before that, but not hearing a fire alarm was something I couldn't ignore! Also I haven't lost my hearing. Not by a long shot. It's just rather reduced from what is typical for someone my age. Heh, at least that's one way to put it.

So wearing my hearing aids fixes everything, right? Wrong. The aids definitely make the world seem a LOUDER place to me. I can hear sounds clearly that are rather muted without the aids, like the way my keys jangle. But if someone doesn't have my attention when they speak, there is likely to be trouble with our communication. If someone's speaking to me in a noisy place or I'm tired or distracted, I'm liable to misunderstand. I also have trouble with people "sneaking up" on me. My husband gets irritated at how often I startle when he comes into the room. My son takes advantage of it to scare the living daylights out of me.

I have people comment that I do "so well" with my hearing loss. I usually take that to mean they're not experiencing any difficulty communicating with me. Actually because of the hearing I have, I often don't feel "deaf enough". I think people suspect I'm faking it or that I have selective hearing and are not interested in what they're saying. It's good to have my audiogram to show that yes I do have trouble hearing.


Frieda said...

Wow. This is a cool lookin' audiogram. You have perfectly balanced hearing with both ears :D

I'll have to dish out mine and see what it looks like.

Kym said...

What a colorful, cool audiogram!

It frustrates me to no end, when someone says "you speak and do so well for a deaf person?" Hearing people don't 'get it' and I don't expect them to.

I can't imagine why someone would think we would fake hearing loss? Really? That's just bizaare.


Dianrez said...

Actually that's a damn good audiogram, considering the great variety in the d/Deaf community. I can imagine how problematic it was for you to go undetected for so long and yet miss enough important sounds in the higher frequencies to impair communication.

How common is your type of audiogram, I wonder? Could it be that a large percentage of the Hearing community actually have audiograms like this?

steve said...


Hey Sarah, glad you liked the audiogram creator.

After seeing you post this I'm thinking it might be cool to create a little gallery of grams so we can all compare each others.

I've done another little update to the tool so you can save your results and plot changes over time.


Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I think there's just so much that's misunderstood about hearing loss. There are so many factors, if you hear most of what's going on, people tend to ignore the deafness. It must be frustrating for you.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Dianrez,
My audiologist explained it to me like this, "You have the hearing of a man who has retired from a career in construction." In other words my hearing test results would be NORMAL for an older man who had worked around noise his whole life.
This was the first hearing test I ever received in my whole life so I don't know exactly when my hearing loss began. To me the way I heard was normal. I didn't realize I had a problem. In my next post, I'm going to speculate on the possible causes of my hearing loss.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Joey,
It is confusing. Before it happened to me, I thought that deaf meant no hearing, none at all. I had no idea that there was a spectrum of loss. I had always thought of myself as having normal hearing. It was a really big surprise to learn that I had a permanent hearing loss. How could I have been oblivious to something like this? How could I have not known? I had to reconsider how I viewed myself. Was I a quiet person in groups because I was shy or was it actually because I couldn't keep up with conversations? Questions like these made me reevaluate myself and shook my confidence. Identifying with the deaf and hard of hearing community has helped me tremendously.

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Thanks, Steve. You can use my audiogram as part of your gallery if you wish.

On a side note, it took me a while to create my audiogram because if I made one mistake I ended up erasing the whole thing. I was also unable to save the image as a picture. It would only save as a webpage so I ended up taking a screenshot and saving it as a picture in Paint.

Jonathan said...

Sarah, when I looked at your audiogram, I thought "oh you have a typical hearing loss of a man who worked in construction". And then, I read that in one of your comments, that you audiologist said just the same thing.

I guess that's a sign that I was paying attention in the educational audiology course that I took when I was a student in the education of the D/HH program 5 years ago.

I liked the online audiogram creator. I made one up for myself just in case I ever need/want to share the results with someone electronically.

Anonymous said...

Wow- the audiogram creator is great! I put my most recent one on it and it really puts the hearing loss in perspective. My audiogram is similar to Sarah's - with loss dropping steeply after 3000 Hz from 20 db to 70 db at 8000 Hz. I wonder if many people reading this blog have similar audiograms? I too have trouble hearing speech - not noise. Am just starting to understand the problem -- I can hear but not decipher words and with my hearing aids am always saying "excuse me" "please repeat" "I didn't get that". I really am finding the BTE aids uncomfortable and wonder if anyone with the high frequency loss wear the CIC aids? Would love your feedback. Thanks. Betty

Anonymous said...

Meant to say that WITHOUT the hearing aids I am always asking people to repeat --- or use the word in a sentence! Sorry. Betty

SpeakUp Librarian said...

Hi Betty,
Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found the audiogram creator useful.