What are the four levels of deafness?
Asked by Bob Rollop on 21 February 2019
What are the four levels of deafness? How do I know which level I have and what difference does it make to buying a hearing aid?
Answered by Steve Claridge
The four different levels of hearing loss are defined as: Mild, Moderate, Severe and Profound. These definitions are useful to give a rough guide as to how bad your hearing loss is but its by no means an exact science - for example, someone could have a mild hearing loss for low-pitch sounds and a moderate loss for higher pitch sounds (this is actually very common).
Mild Hearing Loss
Someone with a mild hearing loss will not be able to hear sounds that are quieter than 25 - 45 dB. This means they will struggle to hear people whispering, won't hear the clock ticking, leaves rustling or the hum of electrical equipment. Normal everyday conversations may still be OK to hear in quiet environments but people may start to struggle more when there is more than one person talking or where there is background noise.
Hearing aids that are fitted for a mild loss can be very small in-the-ear models or loose-fitting behind-the-ear models - these aids will often utilise the "good hearing" you still have and only amplify the sections of your hearing that have the mild loss.
Moderate Hearing Loss
Sounds in the range of 40 - 75 dB are the quitest someone with a moderate loss will be able to hear, this level of hearing loss is going to have a major impact on your ability to hear in day-to-day environments as it is likely you will now struggle to follow conversation, even in quiet environments, you'll probably still pick up some words, or parts of words, but it it going to be hard work.
There are many great hearing aids that will help with this level of hearing loss. I would recommend a bluetooth-enabled hearing aid so that you can stream TV, iPads, smartphones etc directly into your hearing aids.
Severe Hearing Loss
Things are really going south now, someone with a severe loss will not be able to hear much below the 75 - 90 dB range. This means you won't be able to hear the TV, people talking, the phone ringing or most other everyday sounds. Again, as before, you may have a severe loss for some aspects of your hearing and a moerate or even mild in others.
Most hearing aid manufacturers have a range or power hearing aids for this level of hearing loss. With some of the more basic hearing aids you would have to wear a full-ear mold, which some people find uncomfortable - higher-end hearing aids will still allow you to use a small in-the-ear receiver that is comfortable.
This is the level of hearing loss I have, I basically cannot hear anything with my hearing aids, but with them I can do one-to-one conversations easily and still get along mostly fine in groups conversations - places with lots of background noise can be a problem but I still do OK. If you have this level of loss then there are hearing aids out there that can help you stay in the conversation.
Lip-reading would be a very helpful skill to learn.
Profound Hearing Loss
90 dB is the lowest sound you will be able to hear now. You would just about be able to hear a chainsaw, lawn mower or loud music.
A hearing aid may be able to give you some workable sounds, but that is not guaranteed and a cochlear implant would be a more likely solution for this level of hearing loss. With a hearing aid you would always be struggling.
Lip-reading would now be essential and many people would opt to learn sign-language to communicate.
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