The degree of hearing loss can vary greatly between any two people. In fact, two people with the same degree, or level, of hearing loss can have varying amounts of difficulty depending on how clearly speech is heard. Between the two extremes of hearing well and hearing nothing, there are many degrees of impairment. The terms most often used to describe the degree of hearing loss are mild, moderate, severe and profound. Most hearing losses are mild to moderate and all degrees of hearing loss can be helped.
- Mild hearing loss results in an inability to hear soft sounds and an increased difficulty understanding speech clearly in noisy environments. Mild hearing aid power can reduce the aggravations accompanying this degree of hearing loss. Soem people with mild hearing loss may only require the use of select assistive listening devices such as TV or telephone amplifiers.
- Moderate hearing loss results in an inability to hear soft as well as moderately loud sounds, and can create considerable difficulty understanding speech, particularly within background noise. A comprehensive hearing test will determine the best approach to address these problems.
- Severe hearing loss allows some loud sounds to remain audible but communication without hearing instruments is impossible. The audiologist can help select the most appropriate hearing aid power and the types of assistive listening devices that may be most helpful.
- Profound hearing loss may allow some extremely loud sounds to be audible but life without some form of assistance quickly leads to isolation from all spoken communication. Many with this degree of hearing loss are candidates for a cochlear implant and should consult with their audiologist about this possibility.