Like most things in life, hearing ability is a gray area rather than simply black or white. Your degree of hearing loss tells your audiologist how much you can and cannot hear, and they use this information to recommend the right treatment method.
How Hearing Loss Is Measured
The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels (dB). A person breathing measures about 10 dB while the sound of a gunshot can go up to 140 dB.
Sounds are also measured in pitch or frequency, which is displayed in Hertz (Hz). Most hearing screenings will measure a range of 250 Hz to 8000 Hz, as this contains speech frequencies, which are the most important range for communication.
When measuring your hearing loss, your audiologist will look at both the loudness of sounds you can hear (dB) and the frequencies you can hear (Hz). This tells them your degree of hearing loss.
Slight Hearing Loss
This degree of hearing loss means you cannot hear sounds quieter than 15 dB, such as the rustling of leaves.
Slight hearing loss is below the threshold of diagnosis for adults, but it can affect your ability to hear speech. Children with slight hearing loss will still receive treatment, as hearing is crucial to their speech and language development.
Mild Hearing Loss
This degree of hearing loss makes it hard for you to understand words when there is a lot of background noise. One-on-one conversations are not usually affected.
Mild hearing loss is classified as a loss between 26 and 40 dB.
Moderate Hearing Loss
This degree of hearing loss will result in you frequently asking people to repeat themselves either in-person or over the telephone.
Moderate hearing loss means you have trouble hearing sounds lower than 40-68 dB.
Severe Hearing Loss
This degree of hearing loss means you will have trouble hearing others speak without the use of amplification, usually in the form of a hearing aid. You may find yourself relying more heavily on lip reading to understand a conversation.
Those with this degree of hearing loss cannot hear sounds lower than 70-94 dB.
Profound Hearing Loss
This is the highest degree of hearing loss. Those with profound hearing loss cannot hear even loud conversations or sounds without the use of a hearing aid of cochlear implant.
Many with profound hearing loss rely on sign language to communicate. They cannot hear sounds below 95 dB.
In order to determine your exact degree of hearing loss, your audiologist will need to complete a series of hearing tests. Once they have your measurements, they can put together an individualized treatment plan. To find out your exact degree of hearing loss or to learn more, contact the experts at Hearing Advancement Center.