Noise-induced hearing loss—understanding audiograms
Produced in partnership with Sue Brown
Noise-induced hearing loss—understanding audiograms

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note produced in partnership with Sue Brown provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss—understanding audiograms
  • Basic pointers on audiograms
  • Basic pointers on noise

Basic pointers on audiograms

The ability to read and interpret audiograms is essential when dealing with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims. If the audiogram does not indicate NIHL there is no point in undertaking any further enquiries.

The claimant will usually have had an audiogram carried out either by their GP or by their employer or both.

The audiogram will consist of only one or two pieces of paper in graph format. It is produced by an expert plotting the results of measuring an individual's hearing ability at different frequencies.

Properly read/interpreted, the audiogram will give a very powerful indication as to whether a client’s hearing loss is attributable to noise exposure (and, hence, potentially actionable), disease/genetic deformity or simply old age.

Some basic pointers on reading/interpreting audiograms are:

  1. the results in respect of the right ear are marked '0' or '(' or '['. Sometimes, although not universally, '0' is used for the air conduction results. '(' or '[' are for the bone conduction results. If the audiogram is in colour, red is used for the right ear

  2. results in respect of the left ear are marked with 'x' or ')' or ']'. The brackets are, again, sometimes used to distinguish bone from air conduction results. If in colour, the left ear is in blue

  3. noise frequencies are marked on the bottom horizontal axis. The deeper sounds are

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