Understanding the Degrees of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss comes in all shapes and sizes. Degrees of hearing loss can also vary greatly.

Some people encounter sudden hearing loss associated with a traumatic event. Others experience a gradual loss along with the natural process of aging. Some experience hearing loss in one ear while others experience loss in both ears at the same time. Even those who have hearing loss in both ears may find it is affecting one more than the other.

These variations in the experience of hearing loss make each case unique. One of the major ways that hearing loss can be categorized is according to the degree of severity. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to understand hearing loss according to that system of categorization.

The Hearing Test

If you’ve recently visited us at Hearing Group for a hearing test, then you are familiar with the process. If you are anticipating your first hearing test, here is a general overview of how hearing specialists diagnose a hearing loss.

Hearing tests come in many forms, but the most common form is pure tone audiometry. In this type of hearing test, tones will play at different volumes and at different pitches, ranging from low to high. The combination of volume and pitch can result in a sound that you either can or cannot hear. Your hearing specialist would have prompted you to signal by raising your hand or pressing a button each time that you heard a tone.

Diagnosing a Hearing Loss

After this exam, the examiner will lay out the results in an audiogram. This graph demonstrates the patterns in your hearing. Most people lose the ability to hear higher frequencies before the lower frequencies. The audiogram will show what volume is necessary in order for a person to hear a frequency. It is set in an arrangement from low to high. With this graphic demonstration in hand, an audiologist can determine whether a hearing loss is present and designate the degree of hearing loss experienced.

Degrees of Hearing Loss

The volume at which a sound can be heard is measured in decibels, and each of the degrees of hearing loss designates a range of loudness.

  • Mild

The inability to hear sounds under 40 decibels is a mild hearing loss. But this rage of the volume is relatively quiet. Those with mild hearing loss find that they cannot hear sounds as quiet as the rustling of leaves, a whispering voice, or normal breathing. Some have trouble hearing only at high frequencies. Similarly, those with mild hearing loss may be unable to hear voices within a loud environment like a restaurant or concert. This form of hearing loss is also quite commonly not diagnosed. Those who cannot hear these quiet sounds may not even know that they are unable to do so, or they may think it is not a big deal.

  • Moderate

Sounds between 40 and 60 decibels register in the range of moderate hearing loss. These sounds are typical of a quiet office or country home. At this level of hearing loss, a person may have trouble keeping up with a conversation at a normal volume, even within an otherwise quiet space. Certain sounds, consonants, and accents may be lost in the conversation, leading a person to misunderstand or only partially understand.

  • Severe

If you have trouble hearing sounds up to 80 decibels, your hearing loss is considered to be severe. These sounds are relatively loud, such as a vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, or coffee grinder. At this level, a person will almost certainly require assistance in the form of hearing aids in order to be able to get along in public.

  • Profound

Those with profound hearing loss are unable to hear sounds until they occur over 80 decibels. Examples of this level of sound would be a lawnmower, food blender, or motorcycle.

Visit Us at Hearing Group

Knowing the degrees of hearing loss is only the first step along your path to healthy hearing. It is important to take a hearing test with a trained professional in order to know the accurate degree of hearing loss you may be experiencing. Understanding your personal hearing profile is necessary to get the right assistance for the situations when you need it most. Don’t hesitate to contact us at Hearing Group to schedule a hearing test and consultation!

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: December 31, 2018
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