Understanding the Degrees of Hearing Loss

For some people, the knowledge of hearing loss is unavoidable. Very serious hearing loss is a debilitating condition, making it impossible to carry on living in the same ways one would have prior to experiencing the loss. When hearing loss takes place at such a drastic level, everyday activities must accommodate the change, including the ways we communicate, orient ourselves in public space, and get our entertainment and information.

Yet, many people do not have such severe hearing loss, and they may, remarkably enough, not even know that they have hearing loss at all. For those with slight hearing loss, it is quite common to satisfice to the condition, meaning that a person can change habits or come to expect less in order to get by. This process is not always a conscious behavior. Though some may set out to adapt to listening environments in a way that makes it easier for them to get by, others may do so without even noticing. Moving closer to a sound source, watching lips move during communication, and filling in the gaps in missing language are all actions taken by those with hearing loss to make do with what they have, and these actions can even be taken without realizing one is doing so. Especially in these cases, a person may not know that she has hearing loss whatsoever.

With such a wide range of hearing ability, you might wonder about the different types of hearing loss. The Better Hearing Institute designates different categories of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. Although it would be unmistakable to have profound hearing loss, one might have mild hearing loss without even noticing.

Mild Hearing Loss

Mild hearing loss denotes the inability to hear a sound at less than 40 decibels of volume. Sounds themselves are categorized according to frequency, or pitch. Therefore mild hearing loss can occur only in a particular range, making it difficult to detect. Although mild hearing loss is the most common type, it is also the most commonly undiagnosed. Sounds such as a whisper, rustling leaves, or the sound of normal breathing all fall into the range of 40 decibels, meaning that these sounds are relatively quiet. Particularly in noisy environments and in high frequency ranges, these sounds can be difficult to hear.

Moderate Hearing Loss

Moderate hearing loss occurs in the 40 to 60 decibel range, such as the volume level of a quiet office. Although a quiet office has some sound, it is not a loud space, and moderate hearing loss can go undetected in some cases, as well, particularly for those with hearing loss in a very specific range due to workplace hearing damage. The repeated exposure to a certain loud sound in the workplace can damage a very specific range of hearing, meaning that moderate hearing loss can go untreated. Most people with moderate hearing loss have trouble following conversations, and they tend to benefit the most from the use of hearing aids.

Severe Hearing Loss

Severe hearing loss occurs in the 60 to 80 decibel range, where sounds are quite a bit louder. Some common sounds that a person with severe hearing loss would not be able to hear include a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer. Beyond severe hearing loss one can experience profound hearing loss, at a level above 80 decibels. Lawn mowers, blenders, and motorcycles all exist at this sonic level, and a person with profound hearing loss almost certainly knows that the condition exists.

Profound Hearing Loss

Although those with severe or profound hearing loss already know that a problem exists, those with mild or even moderate hearing loss may not. The possibility of developing hearing loss without realizing it makes it even more important to seek out a hearing test. Many hearing specialists recommend seeking out regular hearing exams as part of an annual health program.

Profound Hearing Loss

Although those with severe or profound hearing loss already know that a problem exists, those with mild or even moderate hearing loss may not. The possibility of developing hearing loss without realizing it makes it even more important to seek out a hearing test. Many hearing specialists recommend seeking out regular hearing exams as part of an annual health program.

Audibel

At the very least, if you have reason to suspect that your hearing has been compromised in one of these ranges of volume, do not delay to seek assistance. Life without full hearing ability can have other serious health effects, so it is important to seek assistance as soon as it becomes available to you. Knowledge of your hearing ability can only lead to a better decision process in the future. Contact us at Audibel to schedule a hearing test today.