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Hearing Loss - Types, Degrees

We're Not All The Same

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Updated June 20, 2014

You or your child have been diagnosed as having a hearing loss. What type of hearing loss is it? What degree of hearing loss is it? The type and degree of hearing loss determines the method of treatment for the hearing loss.

Types

There are three types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive - Usually caused by things like wax in the ears. This is one of the easiest types to treat.
  • Sensorineural - Involves the inner ear or the nerve cells. Can be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants in most cases.
  • Mixed - Both a conductive and a sensorineural loss.

Children with ear infections often experience conductive hearing loss from the buildup of fluid in their ears. Older people may experience a sensorineural hearing loss.

Degrees

Determining the degree of hearing loss can be difficult, particularly with young children who do not test as well as older people who can provide more accurate results.

There are basically four degrees (countries outside of the United States may not use the same terms).

  • Mild - At 26-45 db, a little difficulty hearing speech. Even a mild hearing loss can be serious for children still learning to talk.
  • Moderate - At 46-65 db, more difficulty hearing speech.
  • Severe - At 66-85 db, a lot of difficulty hearing speech. It is at this level that we begin to use the term "deaf."
  • Profound - Anything over 85 db. With this level of hearing loss, hearing aids may or may not help; cochlear implants are often an option.
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  5. Types and Degrees of Deafness and Hearing Loss

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