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The Degrees of Hearing Loss – An Overview

Degrees of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss and are generally described as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. If the hearing loss is between two categories it is usually described as a combination of the two categories (mild-to-moderate or moderate-to-severe).

When looking for a hearing amplifier you must understand the degree of your hearing loss. Your doctor will be able to determine this through a hearing test. If you are unable to see a doctor, there are online hearing tests that can give you a basic understanding of your degree of hearing loss, but it is best to see a professional hearing provider to get the most accurate reading.

The degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss. The table below shows one of the more commonly used classification systems. The numbers show the hearing loss range in decibels (dB).

Type of Hearing Loss Range (dB)
Normal 10 to 15
Slight 16 to 25
Mild 26 to 40
Moderate 41 to 55
Moderately Severe 56 to 70
Severe 71 to 90
Profound 91+

Here is a further description of each degree of hearing loss:

Slight

When you experience slight hearing loss, it means that you will not be able to hear sounds between 16 to 25 decibels. This type of loss means it is harder for you to hear very soft sounds, like someone whispering to you.

Mild Hearing Loss

When you experience mild hearing loss, it means you won’t be able to hear sounds between 26 to 40 decibels. This may mean that you won’t be able to hear soft-spoken people. You will probably have to have conversations repeated or clarified. You should still be able to hear loud sounds, but the problem arises with softer tones, for the most part.  Conversations become harder to understand in noisy environments. You can hear most vowel sounds, but some consonant sounds become more difficult to understand.

Moderate Hearing Loss

Moderate hearing loss means you can’t hear sounds from 41 to 55 decibels. Usually, at this level, you can hear most speech, but it becomes more difficult to understand as both vowel and consonant sounds become difficult to hear.  In addition to not understanding normal speech in quiet environments, it becomes particularly difficult when in a noisy situation that has background noise.

Moderately Severe

When you can’t hear sounds between 56 to 70 decibels, you have moderately severe hearing loss. This level requires hearing assistance to communicate.

Severe

Severe hearing loss is when you can’t hear sounds between 71 to 90. This level requires hearing aids or cochlear implants to hear speech.

Profound

With profound hearing loss, you will not be able to hear most everyday sounds without hearing aids.

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