Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss is usually a gradual change in hearing sensitivity over a period of years. Because it occurs so slowly, it often times goes undetected until later in life.

The following is a list of common signs of hearing loss:

  • Difficulty hearing in noisy situations
  • Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • You can hear but can't always understand the words
  • Need to have TV turned up louder than normal

Family or friends may notice that you are having difficulty hearing before you do. Talk to them about how they think you are hearing and then ask them to join you for a hearing test.

A sudden change in hearing can occur due to exposure to a loud sound or a medical emergency. If you experience a sudden change in hearing, see an Audiologist as soon as possible.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. The most common types of hearing loss are:

  • Sensorineural - Also known as "nerve damage", this type of hearing loss is a permanent condition. Hearing aids are frequently recommended for this type of hearing loss.
  • Conductive - This type of loss is usually a temporary condition but can be permanent in some medical conditions. Referral to an ear specialist is advised with this type of hearing loss.
  • Mixed - This is a combination of Sensorineural and Conductive hearing loss that may indicate a medical condition. Referral to an ear specialist is also advised with this type of hearing loss.

Severity Ranges of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is categorized by the degree, or severity, of the hearing loss. Hearing is measured in decibels (dB) and the smaller the number the better the hearing.

  • Normal - 0-25 dB…Can hear in all normal situations
  • Mild - 25-40 dB…May have trouble hearing soft spoken words
  • Moderate - 40-70 dB…May have difficulty hearing some things
  • Severe - 70-90 dB…Will have difficulty hearing most things
  • Profound - 90 dB +…Significant impairment in hearing

Hearing loss is also categorized by the frequency that is affected. Low, medium, and high pitched tones are measured and are then labeled by severity. For example, most people with hearing loss have normal hearing in the low pitch tones, mild or moderate loss in the mid pitch tones, and a moderate or severe loss in the high pitch tones.

Personal Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can cause concern in the personal well-being of an individual. Common concerns include:

  • Poor interpersonal relationships with family
  • Inability to compensate for the hearing loss
  • Discrimination or negative attitudes from other people
  • Increase in anger and frustration
  • Increase in depression and other depressive symptoms
  • Reduced emotional stability
  • Increase in introverted behavior
  • Avoidance of social situations]
  • Increased paranoid feelings
  • Decreased in overall health