What does hearing loss mean?

Your hearing is measured in a scale of decibels (dB) compared to ‘normal’ hearing. This scale is used to evaluate whether you have hearing loss, and if so, to what degree. During your hearing examination, your hearing care professional will test your hearing and present the results in an audiogram (see below).

Levels of hearing loss

This scale shows different levels of hearing loss (HL).
  • Normal hearing (<25dB HL)
  • Mild (26-40dB HL)
    You have trouble hearing or understanding soft speech and whispers, or speech over background noise
  • Moderate (41-55 dB HL)
    You have trouble hearing or understanding regular speech up close or regular speech in a quiet office environment
  • Moderately severe (56-70 dB HL)
    You have trouble hearing or understanding everyday conversations or a telephone ringing
  • Severe (71-90 dB HL)
    You can only hear loud sounds such as very loud speech, sirens or a door slamming
  • Profound (90+ dB HL)
    You have trouble hearing sounds such as a motorbike or power tools


The audiogram


An audiogram is a visual representation of your hearing. During the hearing test, your hearing healthcare professional will plot the results into the audiogram. 


This is a typical audiogram for a person with normal hearing:

 

 audiogram_normal_1

And this is a typical audiogram for a person with age-related hearing loss:

audiogram_loss_1

Your hearing healthcare professional uses the data from your audiogram to determine if you might benefit from hearing instruments or if other medical treatment may be appropriate.