Between normal hearing and profound hearing loss there are varying degrees of hearing loss, usually classified as mild, moderate, moderately severe and severe. Different degrees of hearing loss affect individuals differently. For example, a child with a “mild” hearing loss will have significant problems in the classroom so that his or her hearing loss would be considered “educationally handicapping.”
Hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB). Generally speaking, normal hearing is from 0 to 25 dB (15 dB for children), a mild hearing loss from 26-40, moderate from 41-55, moderately severe from 56-70, severe from 71-85, and profound over 85. Normal speech reaches the ear at approximately 45 dB when the speaker is 3 feet from the listener. This level (45 dB) is judged comfortably loud by persons with normal hearing. A person with a mild hearing loss finds 45 dB to be “soft.”
A person with a moderate hearing loss may hear speech at a “whisper” and people with moderately severe or poorer hearing will not hear normal speech at all unless spoken at high volume (shout) levels. Most people with mild to moderate hearing loss hear much better in quiet rooms with only one person speaking and have much more difficulty in noisy or group listening situations.
The good news is that modern hearing aids, if fit properly, are able to significantly improve a person’s ability to hear and understand speech in virtually all listening environments. The stress is on “fit properly.” With today’s technology, there is no reason why with a properly fitted hearing aid and some auditory training (if needed) a person cannot hear and understand speech.
At Speech and Hearing Associates, we have been fitting hearing aids for over 35 years. All evaluations, fittings, and follow-up visits are with doctors of audiology. We do not employ hearing aid dealers or technicians. Most of our audiologists have over 15 years experience and have been with Speech and Hearing Associates for more than 13 years.