deafness

Understanding the 4 levels of deafness

  • 4 levels of deafness

Hearing loss is a much more common problem than you think and it affects millions of people all over the world. The reason that it’s ignored in a lot of cases is because it takes time to notice at first and it gradually gets worse with age. You may not even realise that you’re suffering from it until it is too late and it starts becoming evident.

It is important to know the levels of deafness to understand its severity and seek treatment as early as possible. 

Causes of deafness

Some common causes of deafness are injuries, genetic defects, ageing and even certain diseases.

Few of the diseases that can cause deafness are

Sickle cell disease
Lyme disease
Arthritis
Hypothyroidism
Diabetes
Mumps
Syphilis
Chicken pox
Certain types of cancer

Levels of deafness

There are four common levels of deafness as classified by audiologists

  1. Mild hearing loss
  2. Moderate hearing loss
  3. Severe hearing loss
  4. Profound hearing loss

Mild hearing loss

As it is the initial level, it is the most difficult to notice. People with mild hearing loss cannot hear sounds quieter than 25-45 dB. This means that the sounds like ticking of the clock, dripping of the water or rustling of the leaves may go unheard. People with mild hearing loss also experience difficulty understanding words when someone is whispering or even talking normally in a noisy environment. Since the hearing loss here is mild, it can be easily rectified using a hearing aid that can amplify the low sounds.

Moderate hearing loss

 At this level, the quietest sounds that can be heard are of 40-75 dB. Anything quieter than that will not get registered. You will start seeing a major impact of hearing loss in your day-to-day life at this level as sounds like ringing of phone or doorbell start going unheard. It can also get difficult to follow up during a normal one-to-one conversation even in a quiet environment. Luckily, even at this level, the condition can be rectified using a hearing aid.

Severe hearing loss

People suffering from severe hearing loss cannot hear anything below 75-90 dB range. This means you can find it difficult to hear pretty much everything in daily life like the TV, ringing of the phone and other everyday sounds. Following up a conversation with anyone without a hearing aid is almost impossible at this level. There are powerful hearing aids that can be helpful at this level but are still not very efficient. This type of hearing loss can be rectified by undergoing middle ear implants or cochlear implants surgery.

Profound hearing loss

Profound hearing loss is the most significant level of hearing loss. At this level, sounds below 90-120 dB cannot be heard. This means that it is hard to hear even loud sounds like fire alarms and you basically lose all of your hearing sense. People with profound hearing loss cannot hear anything and have to adapt techniques like hand gestures, lip reading or visual cues as even hearing aids are ineffective at this level. The solution at this level is getting cochlear implants that can help you hear with rehabilitation after the surgery.