Hearing management

20 November 2018

How bad is your hearing loss?

You've had a professional diagnose your hearing loss. So how bad is it?

People often assume that hearing loss only affects older people, but the reality is that it can affect anyone and at any age.

If you are finding it hard to follow conversations in noisy environments or have to constantly ask people to repeat themselves, or your family regularly complains that the TV is too loud, it might be time to book a hearing test. 

Degrees of hearing loss

After you've had a hearing test, which takes between 60 and 90 minutes, your audiologist might tell you that your degree of hearing loss is mild, moderate, severe or profound. But what exactly does that mean? The Better Hearing Institute gives a brief explanation of each degree:

Mild: It's the most common and under-diagnosed degree of hearing loss, the institute says. It means you probably have trouble hearing sounds that are less than 40 decibels, such as a whisper, rustling leaves or the sound of normal breathing. You may have trouble hearing others in noisy environments or higher-pitched sounds.

Moderate: In addition to the sounds described above, you may have trouble hearing sounds in the 40- to 60-decibel range, such as those typical of a quiet office. You probably have trouble keeping up with most conversations without the use of hearing aids.

Severe: You probably have trouble hearing sounds up to 80 decibels, such as those of a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer.

Profound: You probably can't hear sounds above 80 decibels, such as a lawn mower, food blender or motorcycle.

So how often do I need to have a hearing test?

Hearing loss often happens so gradually you might not even realise there is a problem. The Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals says you should go for regular hearing tests and recommends the following:

  • 18 to 45 years old: every five years
  • 45 to 60 years old: every three years
  • 60 years and older: every two years

Image credit: iStock 


Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Minette Lister graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Pathology (Audiology) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville in 2015. Thereafter, she completed her compulsory year of community service at Phoenix Assessment and Therapy Centre in Durban. In 2017, Minette started working for Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. She is passionate about working with children and adults to diagnose and manage hearing loss using state of the art technology. Minette offers hearing screening programmes for newborn and high-risk babies, as well as school-aged children, in order to decrease the incidence of late or unidentified hearing loss.

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