Understanding your child’s audiogram can be an overwhelming task, and sometimes after you’ve made it home you realize that there were more questions you wish you had asked your child’s audiologist. Thank you to Dr. Sydney Bednarz for joining Parent Infant and helping us to better understand how to interpret audiograms!
Parts of the Ear:
Types of Hearing Loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss – Conductive hearing loss is caused by malformation of the outer or middle ear. In these circumstances sounds have difficulty traveling to the inner ear and auditory nerve. This can be permanent (e.g. atresia) or temporary (e.g. ear infection)
Sensorineural Hearing Loss – Sensorineural hearing losses are caused by problems in the inner ear (cochlea) or with the auditory nerve. In these cases sounds can travel through the outer and middle ear but have difficulty reaching the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is likely permanent.
Mixed Hearing Loss – If a child has components of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss this is called mixed hearing loss. One common example of mixed hearing loss is a child with sensorineural hearing loss who also has middle ear fluid (ear infection).
Audiogram of Familiar Sounds:
The Speech Banana:
The Speech Banana is a term used to describe the area on an audiogram where the sounds of speech appear. When the speech sounds are plotted out on the audiogram they take the shape of a banana, therefore audiologists and other speech professionals refer to that area as the speech banana. While many other environmental sounds (e.g., dog barking, airplanes, lawn mower, etc.) fall outside of the speech banana, audiologist are most concerned with the frequencies within the speech banana because a hearing loss in that region can affect a child’s ability to learn language. For optimal listening, your child’s hearing should be above the speech banana with amplification.
Degree of Hearing Loss: