What are the different types of hearing loss?
Two Main Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage to the outer or middle ear that may result from excessive wax build-up, fluid in the middle ear, a foreign object stuck in the ear, ruptured eardrum, or infection. The symptoms can include earaches, pressure or fullness in the ear, and muffled sounds.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear that may result from aging, excessive noise, drugs, disease, head trauma, infections, and birth defects. The symptoms can include dizziness, ringing or buzzing in the ear, muffled sound, difficulty hearing certain pitches, and difficulty with speech discrimination.
Levels of Hearing Loss
- Mild Hearing Loss (26-40 dB) A person with mild hearing loss typically has difficulty following conversation if the speaker is more than six feet away or if there is noise in the background. The person occasionally misses a word or two and notices the need for a little more volume.
- Moderate Hearing Loss (41-55 dB) A person with a moderate hearing loss typically has difficulty following conversation if the speaker is not speaking loudly or is more than three to five feet away. The person will often have trouble hearing when there is background noise and will have difficulty in group discussions or meetings.
- Moderate-Severe Hearing Loss (56-70 dB) A person with a moderate-severe hearing loss typically can hear and identify louder environmental sounds and may be able to understand vowels better than consonants.
- Severe Hearing Loss (71-90 dB) A person with a severe hearing loss typically has difficulty following conversation if the speaker does not speak very loudly and is more than one foot away. The person will have difficulty understanding speech without hearing aids, but may be able to hear some loud sounds (a siren, for example). The person will depend on visual cues to understand words.
- Profound Hearing Loss (91 dB or higher) A person with a profound hearing loss may or may not be able to hear loud sounds, even with hearing aids. The person will rely heavily on visual or tactile cues and will not depend on the sense of hearing for communication.