What a great question! Many people are reluctant to admit that they have hearing loss and don't seek treatment until nudged by family members to do something. While it might seem obvious to those family members that there is a problem, it is often not so evident to the individual, but why? The primary reason is that hearing loss does not typically happen overnight. Most of the time, hearing loss occurs gradually over time. This loss could be due to repeated noise exposure from work, noisy hobbies, aging, or any combination of those and other factors. Whatever the cause, this gradual decrease makes the difficulty less noticeable to the individual with hearing loss.
First, let's talk about levels of hearing loss. Hearing loss is measured on a scale of decibels (dB) and is graphed on an audiogram. Normal hearing for adults is 0-25 dB, a mild loss is 26-40 dB, a moderate loss is 40-55 dB, a moderately-severe loss is 55-70 dB, a severe loss is 70-90 dB, and a profound loss is 91+ dB.
Mild hearing loss: Individuals with a mild hearing loss typically hear well in quiet situations. They will, however, have trouble understanding conversations in a noisy environment or when they are not facing the person speaking.
Moderate hearing loss: Individuals with a moderate loss and those with a moderate to severe hearing loss will often complain that speech sounds muffled, will frequently ask people to repeat themselves, will turn the volume up on the television, and rely heavily on reading lips.
They are likely missing most, if not all, speech sounds and will not be able to follow a conversation without a hearing aid. They will, however, be able to hear some environmental sounds without amplification. Individuals with moderate hearing loss might stop participating in activities they have previously enjoyed and may become more isolated.
Severe hearing loss: A severe hearing loss will make it nearly impossible to hear a conversation without a hearing aid. However, some environmental sounds will still be accessible.
Profound hearing loss: A person with profound hearing loss hears no speech and minimal environmental sounds without a hearing aid.
Hearing health is an important part of your overall health. It is recommended that you seek a complete evaluation from a licensed audiologist. However, a hearing screening is a great first step in hearing health. If you are interested in seeing if you may have hearing loss, click here to take our online Hearing Assessment.
Please note: the hearing assessment results are not intended to replace a diagnostic hearing test facilitated by an audiologist.