Roughly 15% of the U.S. population—tens of millions of people—have some form of hearing loss. The degree or severity of hearing loss, however, varies from person to person. A basic understanding of the different levels of hearing loss, and a hearing test, will help you determine if you need hearing aids.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- The 4 levels of hearing loss
- What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid
- Getting help with hearing loss
Levels/Degrees of Hearing Loss
There are 4 degrees of hearing loss recognized by the CDC: mild, moderate, severe, and profound.
The degree of hearing loss is determined by the ability to hear certain sounds, which are measured in decibels (dB)—from 0 dB (the average sound a person can hear with normal hearing) to 140 dB (the threshold of pain). The more sounds that you can’t hear at a certain decibel level, the greater your hearing loss is.
Mild Hearing Loss (25–40 dB)
The quietest sounds you can hear fall between 25 and 40 dB. At this level, you can still have normal conversations, but you’ll have trouble hearing certain sounds, such as soft whispers, children’s voices, or the ticking of a watch. Many people at this level don’t realize they have hearing loss unless they’ve taken a hearing test.
Moderate Hearing Loss (41–69 dB)
At this level, you’ll have more difficulty talking to people, especially over the phone or if they talk softly, and even more so in noisy environments. The greater the level of hearing loss, the less likely your ears are able to pick up certain consonant and vowel sounds that are important parts of understanding speech. You may also notice that you're not hearing common everyday sounds like you used to.
Severe Hearing Loss (70–90 dB)
At the severe level, you'll find there are many everyday sounds you can't hear that otherwise would be considered loud, such as a dog barking or a vacuum cleaner running. Additionally, having conversations with people will be extremely challenging.
Profound Hearing Loss (91 dB and higher)
At this level of hearing loss, you'll have immense difficulty understanding speech, whether it’s talking on the phone, hearing the TV (even at a high volume), or participating in conversations. You may even struggle to hear very loud sounds, such as airplane engines, traffic, or fire alarms.
What level of hearing loss requires a hearing aid?
It can be a bit tricky to know when you need hearing aids because hearing loss affects everyone differently. Hearing loss usually occurs gradually over time so it's not always that obvious, particularly at the mild and moderate levels of hearing loss. No matter the case, you might benefit from hearing aids and they can help prevent further loss.
At the severe level, hearing aids are vital. If you have profound loss, hearing aids may help to a degree but you could require more advanced treatment like surgery or a cochlear implant.
How to get help
Many types of hearing loss affect millions of people, but the condition often goes untreated. In fact, only 1 in 4 adults who could benefit from hearing aids have used them.
If you think you or a loved one has hearing loss, take a hearing test and pursue the hearing solutions you need. You can check your hearing at a local hearing clinic or from the comfort of your home. Simply take the MDHearing free online hearing test and receive your results immediately.
If you need hearing aids, MDHearing offers a range of affordable, FDA-registered OTC hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss. We offer a 45-day risk-free trial so you can try them on in your daily life and make sure our solutions work for your loss. Our U.S.-based licensed hearing professionals are always here to help.