Hearing loss can be something that happens suddenly if you’re exposed to a loud sound or bang. It can also happen slowly over a long period of time, which is often the case with age-related hearing loss. Understanding hearing loss is an important first step towards doing something about it.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss means you have lost the ability to hear certain sounds. Maybe you can no longer hear high-pitched tones, like the voices of women or children. Or maybe you can’t pick out a single voice if there is a lot of conversation in the background.
Sometimes hearing loss is temporary, like a ringing in your ears after a noisy concert. Most often, it is permanent because the mechanisms that help you hear have been damaged.
Levels of hearing loss
Hearing loss can be divided into four categories depending on the level of hearing loss*: mild, moderate, severe and profound. Watch the video to understand these four levels better.*World Health Organization, 2016
Get a feel for what’s it like to live with a hearing loss
Click below to hear what everyday situations such as going to the restaurant and listening to music sounds like with different levels of hearing loss.
What is an audiogram?
When your specialist describes your hearing loss, he or she will always refer to the severity of the loss and its “configuration”, which means the pitches or frequencies you are unable to hear.
These tones will be placed on a graph called an audiogram.
An audiogram shows which frequencies you are able to hear, and at what volume. The audiogram gives your hearing professional a good idea of how severe your hearing loss is, and helps your professional select the best treatment options for you.
Parts of the ear and hearing loss types
The ear is made up of three parts:
- the outer ear
- the middle ear
- the inner ear
Knowing how the ear works is important for understanding hearing loss. Hearing loss can be divided into three types depending on which part of the ear is affected.
Think you may have a hearing loss?
Find a hearing care professional near you today and have your hearing tested.