What You Need to Know About the 5 Degrees of Hearing
Your sense of hearing is one of your most valuable assets; it provides information the brain uses in many different ways to do things like keep you balanced, build a picture of the world around you, and of course, communicate with others. It’s this communication that our relationships with friends and family are built on.
So what happens to you when this powerful sense starts to deteriorate? What options are there to alleviate hearing loss at different degrees? Read on to learn about the different degrees of hearing loss and everything you need to know about them.
Technically not a level of hearing loss, but forms the basis of what hearing loss is measured against. Normal hearing level starts from -10 dB and extends up to 20dB. Most sounds within this range are audible to those with their sense of hearing intact, as well as all sounds above. With normal hearing, you can hear conversations, television and films, music, and sounds of nature, and enjoy a full quality of life.
- Full hearing capacity, full quality of life
- No treatment necessary for normal hearing
- Avoid loud noises and get hearing tested to protect over time
Mild hearing loss is classified as hearing sounds between 21 and 40 dB upwards. This would mean sounds like the hum of a refrigerator or leaves gently rustling in the wind, as well as certain spoken sounds, would become hard for you to hear in environments with some background noise. This level of hearing loss will often be noticed by your friends and family before yourself. A proactive approach to protecting your hearing will help you retain the ability to talk to friends and loved ones (you can read more about prevention here).
- Some speech starting to fade
- Can be treated by using hearing aids
- A proactive approach will prevent further damage
- Have hearing tested at regular intervals to identify causes
Moderate hearing loss is classified as 41-70dB. At this stage, speech is becoming increasingly difficult to interpret and interpersonal communication may suffer. At this degree, music can be unclear, and noise as loud as a household vacuum or the sound of rainfall can become muffled and hard to hear. Use of hearing aids can restore the ability to converse naturally and enjoy music.
- Can be treated with good hearing aids
- People will need to speak louder to be heard
- Remaining hearing level should be protected
Severe hearing loss is classified as a hearing range of 71 to 80 dB. Sounds that may be difficult to hear in this range include group conversation, a running dishwasher, or an alarm clock. People speaking will be barely audible, even in quiet settings, and most general sounds are inaudible at this degree also.
- Reading lips & body language necessary to communicate
- Severe hearing loss can be treated with powerful hearing aids
Profound hearing loss is the most extreme degree of hearing loss, from 91dB upwards. People experiencing profound hearing loss could struggle to hear sounds as harsh as a motorcycle, a freight truck, a gunshot, or even a jet engine. Conversations of a natural volume aren’t audible at this level and people will often have to shout if they’re to be heard.
- Conversation at normal volume will be inaudible
- Treatments are more extensive, such as a cochlear implant
- There is little hearing to lose once level is considered 'Profound'