Hearing loss falls into one of five categories: Mild, moderate, severe, severe-to-profound, and profound. Determining the degree of hearing loss is the responsibility of a hearing healthcare professional who measures how loud a sound must be for you to hear it, and which frequencies are the hardest for you to understand.
A unit that measures the intensity of a sound is called a decibel (dB). A prolonged exposure to sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause damage to your hearing resulting in noise-induced hearing loss. Any sound above 120 dB is uncomfortable, and noises higher than 140 dB will cause pain. The decibel levels of everyday noises include the following:
- A whisper is 15 dB
- A typical conversation is 40-60 dB
- A lawnmower is 90 dB
- Rock concerts are 120 dB
- The sound of a gunshot is 140 dB
The other method of sound measurement is frequency, or pitch. Hertz (Hz) is the measurement unit for frequency. Hearing healthcare professionals measure between 250 Hz to 8000 Hz to encompass the speech frequencies, which are the most vital range for communication.
The Degrees Of Hearing Loss
A hearing healthcare professional can use dB and Hz to test your hearing and determine the degree of hearing loss using dB and Hz. Here are the degrees of hearing loss:
- Slight hearing loss. A slight hearing loss exists when you can’t hear sounds quieter than 15 to 20 dB. This level is the equivalent of leaves rustling or someone whispering your name. Although minimal, this type of hearing loss can still affect communication.
- Mild hearing loss. Hearing loss in the middle of 26 and 40 dB is mild hearing loss. With this type of hearing loss, you may be able to hear one-on-one conversations with no problem. However, hearing speech with background noise is a challenge.
- Moderate hearing loss. It is at this level that you begin asking people to repeat themselves in person and on the telephone. At this level, it is difficult to hear sounds below 40 – 69 dB. This degree of hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids.
- Severe hearing loss. With severe hearing loss, you will not be able to hear people speaking without using a hearing aid or other amplification device. Individuals with this intensity of hearing loss cannot hear sounds lower than 70 – 94 dB.
- Profound hearing loss. Sounds lower than 95 dB are not detectable by people with this degree of hearing loss. At this level, you will only be able to hear exceptionally loud conversations or sounds, even with a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
Get Your Hearing Tested
When it comes to your hearing, do not take guesses or use questionable over-the-counter products to determine if you have a hearing loss. Arrange a hearing test with a hearing healthcare professional! A hearing professional can administer a set of hearing tests to diagnose and treat your hearing problem accurately. Do not put this off; schedule your appointment today. You will be glad you did.