You have an inkling that something is wrong with your hearing. But it’s not always bad. For example, perhaps you can clearly hear and understand a friend who’s visiting you at home. But in a busy restaurant, it’s almost impossible to have the same conversation. Like a lot of other health conditions, hearing loss comes in various types and degrees, and no two people experience it exactly the same way.
Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type of permanent hearing loss, involves damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways that lead from the inner ear to the brain. For people with a sensorineural loss, higher pitched tones (e.g., consonants in speech, children’s voices and birdsong) are typically more difficult to hear than lower pitched tones.
The severity of a hearing loss can vary greatly from one individual to the next. Hearing healthcare professionals often use four main categories: mild, moderate, severe and profound. Following are classic symptoms of each level, although individual experiences may be different.
- Mild hearing loss — can hear most one-on-one conversations in quiet, but may not catch every word in the presence of background noise.
- Moderate hearing loss — difficulty keeping up with conversations in most environments and on the phone; frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
- Severe hearing loss — nearly impossible to follow a conversation and may supplement hearing ability with lip reading; may also use sign language.
- Profound hearing loss — cannot hear other people speaking unless they are extremely loud; rely heavily on lip reading and/or sign language.
A professional hearing evaluation can reveal your degree of hearing loss, as well as the best hearing solution for your specific needs. Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and consultation with a provider near you. Not sure if you have a hearing loss? Take this simple, interactive online quiz to help determine the need for a professional hearing evaluation.