Understanding the Degrees of Hearing Loss

July 5, 2021

Understanding the Degrees of Hearing Loss

When we think of hearing loss, we often think of the more severe varieties first. For example, those diagnosed with severe hearing loss cannot hear sounds that aren't louder than 80 decibels, such as those made by a lawnmower, food mixer, or motorcycle. The more mild types of hearing loss, on the other hand, are significantly more ubiquitous and less likely to be diagnosed. Have you noticed any changes to your hearing? If so, you might be wondering about the degrees of hearing loss. There are four grades of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound. Evaluating your hearing can help you figure out what treatment options are appropriate for you and what hearing aids would best match your level of hearing loss.

How is hearing loss tested?

A hearing test involves listening for sounds and raising your arm or clicking a button to indicate which sounds you can hear. You are then shown an audiogram after the test. This graph depicts the different pitches of sounds you can hear and can't hear.

An audiogram shows how well you can hear at different pitches (or frequencies) and volumes (or amplitude).

These two criteria combine to determine your hearing abilities at various frequencies across the audible spectrum. For example, if you can hear a very high frequency at a low volume, you presumably have good hearing. Conversely, you most likely have a more severe hearing loss if you can't detect lower frequency noises, even at loud volumes. The decibel level is also used to determine hearing loss because the sound volume is measured in dB.

Let's take a look at the various tiers of hearing loss.

Mild Hearing Loss

Mild hearing loss is the most prevalent type of hearing loss, yet it is also the most likely to go undiagnosed. As a result, mild hearing loss patients are less likely to visit a hearing professional for hearing tests. They may not even realize they are losing their hearing. Mild hearing loss is described as the inability to hear sounds that are quieter than 40 dB. Sounds at this level include a whisper, rustling leaves, or the sound of regular breathing. Those with minor hearing loss, for example, may only have difficulty hearing very high-pitched sounds, as they are the first to be lost when hearing damage begins to occur.

 

Moderate Hearing Loss

In addition to the kinds of sounds mentioned above, those with moderate hearing loss cannot hear sounds in the40-to-60-decibel range. Sounds in this range include background music and a conversation between two people in a quiet home. Without hearing aids, people with moderate hearing loss have difficulty understanding conversations, mainly in noisy situations.

 

Severe and Profound Hearing Loss

Beyond these more typical types of hearing loss, more advanced forms of hearing loss necessitate specialized support to hear. For example, an inability to hear sounds up to 80 decibels, such as a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer, is severe hearing loss. Beyond severe hearing loss, as previously stated, profound hearing loss encompasses any sounds that a listeneris unable to hear at a volume of 80 dB or higher. These two types of hearing loss can occur gradually over time. Still, some people experience them as a result of a single hearing-related event. Another possibility is that a person is born with this type of hearing loss.

 

The Difference Between Bilateral and Unilateral Hearing Loss

Before we wrap up, it's crucial to know the distinction between bilateral and unilateral hearing loss. The majority of people with hearing loss have bilateral hearing loss. This indicates they have hearing loss in both ears to a similar degree.

However, hearing loss is much more noticeable in one ear than the other in people who have unilateral hearing loss. For example, a person with very slight hearing loss in one ear and severe hearing loss in the other is an example of unilateral hearing loss, as is a person with no hearing loss in one ear and moderate hearing loss in the other. If this is the case, you will still be assigned a degree of hearing loss; however, the degree will be different in each ear.

 

Don't forget to take action before it gets worse.

If you are in the Phoenix Metro area and suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test right immediately. Dealing with hearing loss without support can have serious consequences. There have even been links between untreated hearing loss and dementia and cognitive decline. So do not hesitate to arrange a hearing exam with one of our Audiologists and take action if you have trouble hearing, no matter what level you may have.

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