Echo Audiology: Hearing & Audiology Clinic Orléans

Understanding the Degrees of Hearing Loss

Have you ever had a hearing test? If so, you might have been told about your degree of hearing loss. Just like Optometrists quantify your vision loss with a number, Audiologists use degrees to quantify your hearing loss. Question is, have you been told how it translates to your everyday life?


Here is a quick guide on what these degrees (or range of degrees) represent:


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0-15 dB (Decibels): Normal Hearing


16–25 dB (Decibels): Normal (Adults) & Slight Hearing Loss (Children)

This is a tricky level of hearing because its description depends on the age of the patient. At this level, some people may struggle to understand quiet or distant speech and may find it difficult to listen to more complex phrases or hear in noisy environments. Because children are still in the process of learning language and need to hear important information for their ongoing education, we are a bit more conservative with quantifying their hearing. That said, there is no black and white definition of this degree of loss. Whether hearing aids are chosen as a solution or not depend a lot more on the information given at a consultation than the degree of hearing loss itself.

26–40 dB (Decibels): Mild Hearing Loss

Degrees of hearing loss imageWith a mild hearing loss, people may struggle to hear whispers, and could miss 25–40% of the speech signal. This level of hearing loss can also cause someone to feel tired, because they are having to put more energy in listening. For children, parents may notice their child daydreaming a lot or quickly losing focus, especially if they are in a group setting. Hearing aids may be recommended with this degree of loss, depending on what is reported subjectively by the patient.

41–55 dB (Decibels): Moderate Hearing Loss

With moderate hearing loss, people may miss 50–100% of the speech signal. The use of visual cues may also be needed for all conversations. Hearing aids are typically recommended with this degree of hearing loss.

Without amplification, normal speech will be difficulty to understand properly, which can have an impact in daily communication and socialization.

56–70 dB (Decibels): Moderately-Severe Hearing Loss

With this level of hearing loss, conversations must be on a one-to-one basis with no background noise. The television typically ends up having to be very loud and communication can be difficult and tiring. Hearing aids are typically highly recommended with this degree of hearing loss, and the use of communication strategies may still be recommended as an additional tool during conversations.

71–90 dB (Decibels): Severe Hearing Loss

With this level of hearing loss, all forms of verbal communication will be difficult. People need to speak much louder when speaking to someone with this degree of loss.  Conversations will be very difficult. Proper hearing aids is strongly recommended.

91+ dB (Decibels): Profound Hearing Loss

With profound hearing loss, you may struggle to hear loud sounds like fire alarms. Any verbal communication will be missed without the use of hearing aids. Other hearing accessories may also be needed in addition to hearing aids.

The bottom line…

This guideline will give you a bit of an idea of what to expect from your hearing abilities depending on your degree of loss. That said, hearing loss is never treated in a black and white manner. Most hearing losses also don’t fit into one specific category. We often describe hearing losses as sloping or ranging from one degree to another (ie: hearing loss is sloping from normal to severe; hearing loss is sloping from mild to moderate and rising back up to mild).

As an Audiologist, I look at much more than just the degree of hearing loss to determine the best course of treatment for my patients. Even though we use these categories to describe your hearing loss, your subjective experience with the challenges you face with your hearing are much more telling than the hearing loss itself.

I often explain to my patients that two people with the exact same hearing loss on paper, may experience very different hearing related challenges in their daily lives.

For this reason, consulting with an Audiologist who understands these contributing factors is a must in helping you achieve better results with your acoustic rehabilitation.

If you are experiencing hearing difficulties or have been told that you have a certain degree of hearing loss and need more information, book a consultation at Echo Audiology. Our Audiologist will help you understand your hearing better and provide you with a personalized rehabilitation solution for your hearing!