Hearing loss affects two aspects of your hearing: the volume of sounds you can hear and the frequency (pitch) of sounds you can hear. For example, most cases of hearing loss impact the ability to hear low volume and high frequency sounds.
How Is Sound Measured?
Hearing loss is measured in terms of both volume and frequency.
Volume of sounds is measured in decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to any sounds over 85 dB. Louder sounds can cause damage much more quickly than quieter sounds. For example, while you can be exposed to sounds at 85 dB for about eight hours before risking damage to your hearing, the sound of an explosion could cause immediate damage after one-time exposure.
Here are some decibel outputs of common sounds for reference:
- Breathing: 10 dB
- Conversation: 40-60 dB
- Lawnmower: 90 dB
- Concert: 120 dB
- Gunshot: 140 dB
Frequency of sounds is measured in hertz (Hz). Speech frequencies typically range from 250 to 8000 Hz, which is the range of frequencies hearing tests cover.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
When your audiologist tests your hearing, they’ll use both volume and frequency thresholds to determine what degree of hearing loss you have. It’s possible that your degree of hearing loss differs in each ear.
Slight Hearing Loss
Slight hearing loss is categorized by the inability to hear sounds quieter than 15-20 dB. People with slight hearing loss can likely have conversations easily, but miss sounds like whispers and rustling leaves. Children with this level of hearing loss typically wear hearing aids to assist with speech acquisition and language development.
Mild Hearing Loss
Mild hearing loss means you have difficulty hearing sounds in the 20-40 dB range. If you have mild hearing loss, you may be able to have one-on-one conversations without too much difficulty, unless there is a lot of background noise, such as in a restaurant. Hearing aids can help people with mild hearing loss have conversations in public with more ease, and invisible devices like Lyric are also highly beneficial.
Moderate Hearing Loss
Moderate hearing loss is difficulty hearing sounds between 40-69 dB. Individuals with moderate hearing loss usually have a hard time having conversations over the phone and frequently ask people to repeat themselves. Standard hearing aids greatly benefit those with moderate hearing loss.
Severe Hearing Loss
People with severe hearing loss cannot hear sounds below 70-94 dB. They likely cannot have conversations without amplification or lip reading. Standard hearing aids can help amplify sounds to a level the wearer can hear, but cochlear implants or bone anchored hearing aids may be more effective for this degree of hearing loss.
Profound Hearing Loss
Profound hearing loss means not being able to hear sounds under 95 dB. Even if sounds at this level can be heard, they are likely unclear even with amplification. Many people with profound hearing loss use a combination of hearing aids/surgical implants and sign language to communicate.
To schedule a hearing test and learn if you have any degree of hearing loss, call Arizona Hearing Specialists today!