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The Different Degrees of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is difficult on the person affected as well as that person’s friends and family. If you or someone you love suffers from hearing loss, it’s important to educate yourself. There are many different levels and severities of hearing loss...

Hearing loss is difficult on the person affected as well as that person’s friends and family. If you or someone you love suffers from hearing loss, it’s important to educate yourself. There are many different levels and severities of hearing loss – mild, moderate, severe, and profound. The lowest decibel range patients can hear without the use of amplification devices determines each level.

Here is a breakdown of each level of hearing loss and possible treatment options:

Mild

At this level, typically the quietest sounds people can hear are between 25 and 40 decibels (dB). Mild hearing loss affects a person’s ability to hear high-frequency sounds, where most speech sounds occur. If you or someone you know suffers from mild hearing loss, the symptoms will be subtle, such as the need to turn up the volume on the TV or the ringer on the phone. These people should avoid areas with noisy surroundings, because it can be difficult to ignore or suppress background noises, which hinders the person’s ability to hear and participate in conversations. People suffering from mild hearing loss may need to have words or conversations repeated multiple times before they understand what others are trying to say.

Those suffering with mild hearing loss often make the best candidates for hearing aids and other devices that can help clarify high-frequency sounds and make speech patterns sound clearer and not mumbled. These devices do not cure or correct hearing loss.

Moderate

Typically, the quietest sounds heard by those with moderate hearing loss are between 40 and 70 dB. People suffering with moderate hearing loss are unable to understand speech when any background noise is present, and are unable to discern soft or moderately loud sounds. At this level, an audiologist often recommends a hearing aid to help correct any hearing deficiency.

Depending on the severity of the hearing loss, people can choose from a variety of hearing correction devices that range from a discreet behind-the-ear unit to a traditional in-the-ear device.

Severe

At this level, the quietest sounds heard are usually between 70 and 95 dB. Since this stage is significantly more severe, those suffering with this type of hearing loss can benefit from powerful hearing aids. However, most of these people rely on lip reading. Some doctors might encourage these patients and their families and friends to use sign language.

Profound

Those suffering at this level of hearing loss can typically only hear sounds 95 dB or louder, even with the help of amplification devices. Anyone who suffers from profound hearing loss must rely mostly on lip reading and/or sign language to communicate – at this level, most hearing aids are useless. A diagnosis beyond profound hearing loss is complete deafness.

Hearing loss can be hereditary or caused by illness, some medications, exposure to loud noises, head injury, tumors, or the aging process. Ringing in the ear (tinnitus) can also accompany loss of hearing.

If you suspect you or someone you know may be suffering from hearing loss, call our office today to schedule a consultation.

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