Hearing loss is common and can be treated.

Sensorineural hearing loss (snhl)

The most common type of hearing loss. Approximately 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are age related changes in hearing and noise exposure. People with sensorineural hearing loss typically report they can hear people speak, but can’t understand what they’re saying. People with sensorineural hearing loss often complain “everyone mumbles”. Also, they usually hear better in quiet environments and have difficulty understanding conversation over the telephone.


Conductive hearing loss

Occurs when sound waves are not conducted efficiently through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or middle ear (ossicles bones), resulting in a reduction of loudness. Conductive hearing loss may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstruction in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum or problems with the middle ear bones. Patients with a conductive hearing loss should be referred to a physician for medical treatment prior to hearing amplification.


Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a sensorineural hearing loss combined with a conductive hearing loss. For example, a patient may have a noise induced hearing loss and a middle ear infection.


What are the degrees of hearing loss?

A hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound. The type and amount of hearing loss is determined with the aid of an audiogram. An audiometer measures your hearing threshold at various frequencies and produces an audiogram.  Sound volume or intensity is measured in decibels (db).  During a hearing evaluation, your hearing professional will measure how soft a sound you can hear at various frequencies. The higher the decibels required for you to hear sound indicates the severity of your hearing loss. 

  • Normal  Anything less than 15dB. This means hearing is ‘normal’.
     
  • Slight  At 16dB to 25dB, almost unnoticeable difficulty understanding speech.
     
  • Mild – At 26dB to 40dB, a little difficulty hearing speech. Even a mild hearing loss can be serious for children still learning to talk or should be something to monitor for older adults.
     
  •  Moderate – At 41dB to 55dB, more difficulty hearing speech. Understanding speech is becoming a challenge. Being in noisy environments, at times, makes understanding speech difficult. 
     
  • Moderately Severe – At 56dB to 70dB, a lot of difficulty hearing speech.  Depending on several factors understanding spoken language may be difficult. Understanding speech in noisy environments is very difficult.
     
  • Severe – At 71dB to 90dB, serious difficulty hearing speech without hearing aids. Conversational speech cannot be heard. Shouting and loud noise (like traffic) can be heard.  Social isolation may result from an inability to hear/understand spoken language.
     
  • Profound – Anything over 91dB. With this level of hearing loss, hearing aids may or may not help; cochlear implants are an option. Speech cannot be heard. Very loud noises like pneumatic drills and planes taking off can be heard (or felt). People with very profound hearing losses can feel loud low sounds.