Whatever you're interested in getting into the field of audiometry or would simply like to be able to read an audiogram before the doctor can come back to explain the results, it can be instructive to learn how to evaluate your hearing test. While amateur study can not compare to a doctor's evaluation that has been tempted by not only education, but also years of experience, medical experts are quick to point out that a patient is their own best advocate. Even a cursory knowledge of what an audiogram chart is saying can help you converse more intelligently with the administrator about your results.
X's and O's
The primary features of an audiogram will consist of X and O symbols charted on a graph. While not every audiogram is going to be identified, these symbols are usually used to denote the left and right ears respectively. The X will usually denote the left ear, while the O will be used for the right ear. In some hearing test results, the audiogram will use a square and a circle as opposed to X's and O's.
The point of a hearing test is to determine where your ability to hear falls on the typical range of auditory capabilities. This is what the audiogram will display. In most cases, the “normal” range will be from zero to twenty decibels, which you'll find on the vertical axis. When your results fall outside of this range, it could be a signal that you are suffering from some degree of injury. If you notice that your results are outside of this normal range and the doctor tells you there is nothing to be concerned about, you may want to question him further about your observations. There could be a reason for the discrepancy.
If, for some reason, you have access to your audiogram for a while before being able to speak to a doctor about your results, do not get yourself worked up about your observations. This is a common problem in health care and it is one doctors will complain about endlessly. It is also why many hospitals and clinics are wary about giving patients access to hearing test results (and results from blood work, X-rays, and many other results) without having a doctor there to explain them. It is extremely easy for a layman – even one with some rudimentary knowledge – to misunderstand a chart. There's nothing wrong with doing some investigation, but you should wait for a professional opinion to decide there's something to worry about.