Hearing loss is measured in both volume and frequency – in other words, how loud and how high pitch a sound is. As people age, it is most common to lose hearing of quiet sounds and/or high-frequency sounds.
How Sound Is Measured
Loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Below are the decibel outputs of some everyday sounds:
- Breathing: 10 dB
- Normal conversation: 40-60 dB
- Lawnmower: 90 dB
- Concert: 120 dB
- Gunshot: 140 dB
Exposure to any sounds over 85 dB can cause hearing damage over time; the louder a sound is the more quickly it can cause damage. For example, exposure to sounds at 85 dB cause damage after eight hours, while a single gunshot can cause immediate damage.
Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz). Hearing exams test your ability to hear sounds between 250 and 8000 Hz, which encompass speech frequencies.
These units combined tell you what degree of hearing loss you have.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Slight hearing loss is the inability to hear sounds quieter than 15-20 dB. Sounds at this range include whispering voices and rustling leaves. Hearing aids can be used to assist with speech and language development in children with slight hearing loss.
Mild hearing loss means difficulty hearing sounds around 26-40 dB. This level of hearing loss may make it difficult to hear voices when background noise is present. Hearing aids are recommended to help with speech comprehension.
Moderate hearing loss indicates trouble hearing sounds that are under 40-69 dB. People with moderate hearing loss usually ask people to repeat themselves often and have a very difficult time with phone calls. Standard hearing aids are the gold standard treatment for moderate hearing loss.
People with severe hearing loss cannot hear sounds lower than 70-94 dB. They typically cannot hear speech without the use of hearing aids and may rely on lip reading to understand conversations. Hearing aids may be effective, but audiologists often recommend cochlear implants or bone anchored hearing aids for this level of loss.
Profound hearing loss is inability to hear sounds under 95 dB. If you have profound hearing loss, you have difficulty understanding even very loud sounds. Many people with this level of hearing loss use a cochlear implant or hearing aids, but also rely on sign language to communicate.
For more information about degrees of hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test, contact CENTA Medical Group today!