Digital Hearing Aids and Hearing Loss Levels

Hearing loss affects the lives of many people. Still, not everyone who encounters hearing loss in their lifetime will experience the exact same signs and symptoms, nor do they always have the same hearing solution options. There are several different levels (or degrees) of hearing loss, depending on what type of auditory damage has occurred and what part of the ear has been affected.

High Frequency Loss can occur in one or both ears. It is characterized by difficulty or an inability to hear sounds that have a higher pitch or frequency. It becomes increasingly difficult, over time, to perceive these sounds and even makes regular communication difficult. Certain letters of the alphabet such as f, s, t, and z, become unclear and it is difficult to understand what is being said. This can be very frustrating, causing the person to withdrawal from normal activities, as they feel they cannot enjoy conversation and sounds like they used too.

Unilateral Loss occurs in one ear while the hearing in the other remains normal. A person with this level of hearing loss may have difficulty determining the source of sounds, hearing faint or distant sounds (especially if the affected ear is the one directionally aimed at the sound) and difficulty distinguishing sound and speech in environments where the “good” ear may be forced to compete with background noise.

Mild Loss causes an issue with clarity, as the brain is receiving only a portion of the sound signals. Typically, this level of hearing loss causes one to miss about 25%-40% of sound and conversation. Symptoms include being unable to clearly hear someone who might be shouting to you from across the room or street, an inability to understand those who are standing near you in a noisy environment and being unable to hear quieter or weaker voices or sounds.

Moderate Loss causes the brain to miss about 50%-75% of the speech and sound signals. While it causes few problems with understanding or hearing up close, it can cause issues when distance is involved and with changes in any visual cues. Some of the symptoms involved in this level of hearing loss are difficulties in hearing normal conversation due to the inability to perceive the consonant sounds in words.

Severe Loss causes difficulty with hearing in all situations. In order to hear or understand anything, sounds often must be loud or nearby. This level of hearing loss can cause the brain to miss up to 100% of speech and sound signals. The main symptom of this type of hearing loss is the inability to hear or understand without ideal accommodations such as speaking face to face, no background noise or accompanied by a speechreading mechanism.

Profound Loss is the most extreme level of hearing loss. The person may not be able to hear any speech or sound at all and must often rely on visual cues such as lip-reading and sign-language in order to communicate.

The good news is that there are solutions which can improve your hearing ability. Make an appointment to talk with your audiologist about which solution is right for you. Hearing loss doesn’t have to take you away from the people and things you enjoy most in life.

With current technology, 95% of individual with hearing loss can benefit from digital hearing aids [].

Michael Curry is the VP of communications for Local Hearing a provider of digital hearing aids through a nationwide network of hearing clinics. []

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