The degree of hearing loss refers to the seriousness of hearing loss. Hearing loss is classified as - Slight, Mild, Moderate, Moderately Severe, Severe and Profound.
Hearing loss range is described in decibels. Normal hearing range according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is -10 to 15 decibels (dB). The sound of breathing has a decibel level of 10 dB.
Slight Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds between 16 to 25 decibels is classified as slight hearing loss. Slight hearing loss means a difficulty in hearing very soft sounds, such as the rustling or falling of leaves, a whisper or the dropping of a pin.
Children with slight hearing loss can experience difficulty in a classroom, especially if a teacher is more than three feet away. In noisy classrooms, it can be even more difficult to understand conversation.
Mild Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds between 26 to 40 decibels is classified as mild hearing loss. Mild hearing loss means difficulty in understanding conversation that is soft, such as whispered talk, the chirping of birds and the sound of a gentle stream. Conversation becomes harder to understand in noisy environments.
Children with mild hearing loss can have difficulty understanding communication in a classroom and may fail to understand some words, especially in the presence of noise.
A hearing aid may be required to compensate for this hearing loss.
Moderate Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds between 41 to 55 decibels is classified as moderate hearing loss. With moderate hearing loss, there is difficulty in understanding normal speech and comprehending speech becomes more burdensome in the presence of background noise. A person with moderate hearing loss cannot hear sounds such as a babbling brook, noise from a large electrical transformer at a distance of 100 feet, light traffic and conversations at home.
Children with moderate hearing loss can have trouble developing learning skills due to difficulty with understanding communication. People with moderate hearing loss should use a hearing aid to be able to understand conversations, especially in a noisy environment.
Moderately Severe Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds between 56 to 70 decibels is classified as moderately severe hearing loss. Such sounds include conversations at restaurants and offices, the noise produced by a vacuum cleaner, the sound of a shower and an air-conditioning unit at 100 feet.
With this level of speech needs to be loud to be heard and even loud speech can sometimes be inaudible with background noise. Children with moderately severe hearing loss cannot hear normal sounds and develop problems with their own speech and language development if not treated by speech therapists.
People with moderately severe hearing loss should use a hearing aid.
Severe Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds between 71 to 90 decibels is classified as severe hearing loss. Sounds in this decibel category include the sound of a train at 50 feet, passing trucks, the sound produced by a squeeze toy, normal television volume in a living room and the noise made by a food processor.
With a severe level of hearing loss, even loud speech can sometimes be inaudible. People with severe hearing loss require others to speak at a shouting level to be able to hear them. Children with severe hearing loss require the help of speech therapists to ensure proper language, speech and social skill development.
People with severe hearing loss should use a hearing aid designed for severe loss.
Profound Hearing Loss
The inability to hear sounds at 91 decibels and above is classified as profound hearing loss. Such sounds include the sound when riding a motorcycle, music at a loud concert, aircraft landing at a distance, the noise in a train and the sound levels in a sports stadium.
At this hearing loss level, even loud speech may not be heard. Children require auditory training and auditory verbal therapy (hearing rehabilitation, sign language instruction, lip-reading classes and speech therapy). People with profound hearing loss should use a hearing aid designed for profound loss.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information on hearing loss. Please consult a health care professional for your specific diagnosis and treatment of any condition.