The Scourge of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is extremely common and it’s only becoming more prevalent. We live in an increasingly noisy world; making it more likely that individuals will sustain some level of hearing loss as they age.

We used to consider hearing loss something that plagued the elderly, though it actually affects individuals of all ages. This can be due to disease, work, genetics, hobbies, birth complications, and even simply the environment we move through every day.

It’s such a big problem that the World Health Organization says that 1.1 billion youth are in danger of suffering from hearing loss simply because of the noise that surrounds them in their daily lives. This is in addition to the 466 million people around the world that are already suffering from disabling hearing loss.

This should move hearing loss to the forefront of everyone’s mind. This is because if you haven’t already suffered hearing loss, you and your loved ones risk doing so every day.

One thing people should know is that there are different degrees of hearing loss. This means that the impact of hearing loss can range in severity, with mild hearing loss on one end of the spectrum and profound hearing loss at the other end.

Let’s take a look at what those degrees of hearing loss mean for those suffering with them. Keep in mind that all of these forms of hearing loss are considered disabling.  Also, you can suffer from multiple categories of hearing loss at once. For example, your hearing loss can be regarded as mild-to-moderate. Further, you can suffer from hearing loss in one or both ears.

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Mild Hearing Loss

With mild hearing loss, you will likely only be able to hear sounds of at least 26-40 decibels. This is as opposed to normal hearing where a person can hear sounds of at least 15 decibels or less.

If you suffer from mild hearing loss you may begin to notice the effects in your everyday life. This is because you will begin to have difficulty understanding people, especially if they tend to speak quietly or if there are other noises present.

You may notice yourself asking for repeated clarification or missing aspects of a conversation even though you can mostly make out what is being said.  

You may also have trouble hearing the television or music.

Moderate Hearing Loss

With moderate hearing loss, you will only be able to hear sounds of between 41-55 decibels. Normal speech is around 60 decibels which means that quieter conversations will be difficult to hear for those with moderate hearing loss.

Even moderate hearing loss may have some effect on your life. Those with moderate hearing loss can begin to experience social and professional ramifications. It might be difficult for these people to understand the speech they hear without the help of a hearing aid.  

Severe Hearing Loss

Those with severe hearing loss can only hear sounds of 71-90 decibels. They will need a hearing aid or cochlear implant so that they can understand speech. Otherwise, they will be unable to do so.

Profound Hearing Loss  

Those with profound hearing loss might only hear sounds greater than 91 decibels. They may be unable to hear even very loud noises. To put that into perspective, a garbage truck or train is typically around 100 decibels. Meanwhile, an airplane is about 110 decibels.

Types of Hearing Loss

You can also classify hearing loss according to which part of the ear is affected. There are three different types, dependent upon whether the inner, middle, or outer ear is affected.

Conductive Hearing Loss

If you suffer from conductive hearing loss it means that sounds have difficulty penetrating your outer and middle ear.

This may be the case if:

  • You have fluid buildup
  • You have an ear infection
  • You have earwax buildup

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by inner ear damage or problems with the “nerve pathways of your inner ear”. This type of hearing loss can make it difficult to hear softer sounds and can even make it difficult to hear louder sounds. However, hearing aids can help.

It may be caused by:

  • Drug use
  • Illness
  • Genetics
  • Head trauma
  • Aging

Mixed Hearing Loss

People that suffer from mixed hearing loss suffer from a mixture of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Get the Help You Need Today

Are you always reaching for the remote to turn the television up or asking for clarification? Do you have trouble understanding people on the phone or suffer from headaches or fatigue when dealing with noisy environments?

These are all things that indicate a hearing loss. You should schedule a hearing test as soon as possible if you think you might be suffering from any degree of hearing loss. In fact, we recommend that individuals above the age of fifty receive a hearing test so that they can have a better understanding of any changes to their hearing that may occur.

We pride ourselves on our excellent care at Physician’s Hearing Care. We wouldn’t hesitate to provide you with the care you need, and you shouldn’t either. Hearing loss can be mitigated and preexisting damage can be treated. It’s simply a matter of taking that first step and seeking the help you need.

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Dr. Kalyn Bradford Au.D.

Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the director of hearing aid services here at Physician's Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician's Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a clinical audiologist, where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as director of hearing aid services, where she does an excellent job managing the audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.