Illustration of doctor pointing to a diagram of the ear

Consumers often express a desire for simplicity when it comes to understanding their hearing test results. Explaining the results of a hearing evaluation can get complicated when the words used are too technical. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy to understand a phrase like “20/20” vision?

Perhaps we can apply that principle to hearing. Twenty decibels in most books, is the bottom range for “normal” hearing. When looking at hearing test results, there are individual frequencies which range from low to high pitch. While 20/20 could easily reference the softest sounds heard, using 20/20 as a guide becomes tricky because results at individual frequencies may be quite different.

Low frequencies give the perception of volume or loudness. An example of low pitch sounds are the male voice, vowel sounds, or a car horn. High frequencies are associated with clarity or the understanding of speech. High pitch sounds are birds, children and female voices, and consonant sounds.

Although it is untraditional, when explaining hearing in simple terms, using the graph or audiogram, one can have 20/20 hearing in the low frequencies but have a different number in the high frequencies. Perhaps using 20/20 as a guide to explain hearing loss would help increase understanding by using a concept that most already understand.

If the results of your hearing evaluation are difficult to comprehend, tell your provider so that results can be explained and personalized in a way that is understood. After all, the visit is all about you.

A hearing exam just like a vision exam, looks at many parameters. The combined results will guide the practitioner to design a solution or treatment plan.

As we start this new year, let’s think outside the box to make each patient journey an easier path. Cheers to patient centered care.