Have you ever wondered why the hearing aid your spouse or neighbor wears doesn’t work for you too? It’s because hearing loss differs with each individual.
It can appear anywhere on a spectrum from mild to severe, and doesn’t always affect both ears or have the same consequences. In short,there’s no one way to experience hearing loss – and there are many effective hearing aids that can help.If you are suffering from hearing loss and need treatment, contact our doctoral-level audiologists today!
Generally, when one of our doctoral-level audiologists determines the severity of your hearing loss, he or she looks at the levels of sound you can hear. An audiogram charts the results of your hearing test, showing the level your hearing registers.
Degrees of hearing loss
There are six degrees of hearing loss: slight, mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe and profound. Each of these levels is measured in decibels (dB HL). Someone who exhibits mild hearing loss, for example, will not hear sounds that measure –10 to 15 dB HL, while someone with profound hearing loss will not hear sounds at 91 dB HL and above.
As a reference point, an average person with normal hearing can hear sounds at about 0 dB HL and up to about 140 dB HL. Someone with slight or mild hearing loss might not hear the sound of a leaf falling or hushed whispering. Someone with severe or profound hearing loss might not hear a vacuum cleaner, a truck, siren, or a helicopter circling above.
Types of hearing loss
In addition to the degree of hearing loss, there also are other descriptions of hearing loss:
Bilateral vs.unilateral – If your audiologist says you have bilateral hearing loss, that means you’re experiencing hearing loss in both ears. Unilateral hearing loss occurs in only one ear. This type of hearing loss usually ranges from mild to very severe, and can occur in both adults and children.
The causes of this type of hearing loss are broad. Those who suffer from either bilateral or unilateral hearing loss may be subject to genetic or hereditary hearing loss; have an outer, inner or middle ear abnormality; have been exposed to significant loud noise, or a variety of other causes.
Symmetrical vs. asymmetrical – Symmetrical hearing loss means your level and type of hearing loss is identical in both ears. If hearing loss is asymmetrical, you’re exhibiting different levels of hearing loss in each ear; one ear may be able to hear more sounds at different levels than the other. This makes it difficult to hear in backgrounds of noise.
Progressive vs. sudden hearing loss – It’s likely that you know someone with hearing loss whose hearing has continued to deteriorate over time. This is called progressive hearing loss. Sudden hearing loss, on the other hand, can affect anyone at any time. It can also occur when patients have been subjected to sudden and unexpected noises at dangerous volumes.
Fluctuating vs. stable hearing loss – Sometimes hearing loss changes over time, getting worse or, occasionally, getting better, which is referred to as fluctuating. Stable hearing loss means that your level of hearing loss hasn’t changed. Whatever your level and shape of hearing loss, rest assured that your audiologist can properly diagnose and provide the right guidance and treatment.
Do you have questions about your degree of hearing loss and the best way to manage it? Associated Audiologists has doctoral-level audiologists who can help. Request an appointment today to talk about how we can help you prevent future damage and effectively treat noise-induced hearing loss.