Degrees of Hearing Loss

Based on the results of your hearing exam, your audiologist may tell you that you have mild, moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss. But, what do these different degrees of hearing loss mean exactly?

Your hearing loss may also be defined as either unilateral or bilateral, or symmetrical or asymmetrical. Keep reading to understand the differences between the different degrees of hearing loss.

Normal Hearing

People with normal hearing do not experience symptoms of hearing loss. Their audiogram would show a hearing threshold range of -10 to 25 dB.

Mild Hearing Loss

A person with mild hearing loss may notice difficulties understanding quiet conversations, especially in environments with significant background noise. Their audiogram would show a hearing threshold in the range of 25 to 40 dB.

Moderate Hearing Loss

Patients with moderate hearing loss will have difficulties understanding speech at normal conversational levels. They will often listen to the TV or radio at a volume that others find “too loud”. Their audiogram would show a hearing threshold in the range of 40-65 dB.

Severe Hearing Loss

People with severe hearing loss need people to speak at louder than normal levels. They cannot hear faint or normal speech. They will struggle to hear in a group setting. Their audiogram would show a hearing threshold in the range of 65-90 dB.

Profound Hearing Loss

Patients with profound hearing loss cannot understand even loud speech without amplification. Their audiogram would show a hearing threshold over 90 dB.

Sometimes these degrees of hearing loss will be further differentiated by adding categories of “moderately severe” and “severe to profound”. Your audiologist’s recommendation will depend on your degree of hearing loss and personal preferences. Even patients with mild and moderate hearing losses can benefit from hearing aids.

Your degree of hearing loss can change over time. If you see a new audiologist, providing them with a coy of your previous hearing test results can provide vital information. The audiologist will be able to assess the progression of your hearing loss, and give more accurate prognosis information.

Unilateral vs. Bilateral

Unilateral hearing loss means that the hearing loss occurs only in one ear. Bilateral hearing loss indicates that both ears have some degree of hearing loss.

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical

Symmetrical hearing loss means that your hearing loss is the same in both ears. Asymmetrical hearing loss means that your hearing loss is different between your ears. For example, it’s possible to have profound hearing loss on one side and moderate hearing loss on the other.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, schedule an appointment for a hearing test today. Our friendly audiologists will be happy assist you in your journey to better hearing.

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