Definition of hearing loss levels

I am trying to find out the proper description of my hearing loss. Are there ranges, like 50-60 is moderate or 80-90 is severe? I read about people that use the terms mild, moderate, severe and profound. How does someone know what category they are in?

Well I guess I should have Googled before I asked. Here are the definitions I found:

Defining hearing loss

Hearing loss is often classified by means of different categories. The same definitions are not always used, but the following are among the most common.

Mild hearing loss:
On average, the most quiet sounds that people can hear with their better ear are between 25 and 40 dB. People who suffer from mild hearing loss have some difficulties keeping up with conversations, especially in noisy surroundings.

Moderate hearing loss:
On average, the most quiet sounds heard by people with their better ear are between 40 and 70 dB. People who suffer from moderate hearing loss have difficulty keeping up with conversations when not using a hearing aid.

Severe hearing loss:
On average, the most quiet sounds heard by people with their better ear are between 70 and 95 dB. People who suffer from severe hearing loss will benefit from powerful hearing aids, but often they rely heavily on lip-reading even when they are using hearing aids. Some also use sign language.

Profound hearing loss:
On average, the most quiet sounds heard by people with their better ear are from 95 dB or more. People who suffer from profound hearing loss are very hard of hearing and rely mostly on lip-reading, and/or sign language.

Now that I know the numbers, I guess I still don’t understand. I am severe on some and even profound on one ear for one frequency, but I have never had that much difficulty understanding conversations. At least I didn’t think I did. :smiley: I certainly don’t use lip reading. Does the loss have to be over all frequencies to qualify?

Normally it is the frequency of the loss that determines clarity. The human voice generates a fundamental frequency between 120-500 Hz (120 for men, 200 for women, and 250-500 for childred). The voice also produces harmonics 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. at decreasing amplitude. It is the harmonics that give the clarity. The power consonant frequency range (the range of frequencies that provide the most clarity to consonants) is the frequencies around 2800 Hz but varies depending on the speaker. The power vowel frequency range is lower.

For normal conversations, usually hearing normally up to 3500 Hz is important and if you have a hearing loss in that range, clarity and/or loudness may suffer. Hearing loss at the low frequency levels (below 500 Hz) may not be too important for normal conversation since the ear can regenerate those frequencies from the harmonics (telephone circuits do not even transmit frequencies below 300 Hz).

During normal converstation, frequencies below 1000 Hz are normally for loudness and frequencies above 1000 Hz are for clarity.

Harmonics during normal conversations in the power consonant range are about 12 DB less than the fundamental frequency. So if a person is speaking at 60 DB, the amplitude of the power consonant frequency range is about 48 DB. If your hearing loss in that range is 50 DB or greater, you will probably have a great deal of clarity loss unless you communicate with someone with a loud voice (harmonics are also louder).

So the frequency of the loss depends on whether you may be losing loudness or clarity.

Nal has a % of loss table based on some research work.
There are computer programs could calculate exactly the % of hearing loss even binaurally,

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Mike F,
Thanks for this excellent information. I guess I really don’t understand frequency as much as I need to. Based on what you are saying about telephones, it seems like they wouldn’t be useful for most of the human range. What your response really makes me wonder about is why do the hearing tests even go up to 8,000 if anything over 3,500 really isn’t that relevant for human voice. I guess this is why we go to professionals to fix our hearing problems.

Thanks for the link, but the loss calculator doesn’t allow the numbers to be put in on this version.

Telephone circuits pass 300-3500 Hz and that is all that is needed for the average human to completely understand the conversation. Anything below 300 Hz can be created by the human ear out of the harmonics. So telephones work perfectly for most people.

Hearing to 8,000 Hz, 16,000 Hz, or beyond can be helpful in hearing all sounds produced by musical instruments, singers, some birds, etc. but is not very necessary for normal communications. These frequencies are more like quality frequencies.

This is what my recent hearing test showed. I have tinitus that was acting up pretty bad the day of the test and I think I will be doing better on tomorrows test; but no matter what it shows, I need HAs. I obviously have a bad hearing loss in the high ranges. I want an open fit BTE and Costco recommended the Rexton Rivera. From what I am reading, my loss might be too bad for an open fit. I certainly hope not. Since I am only concerned about understanding conversation better, perhaps it won’t be a problem. I will see what the other audi says tomorrow. What do ya’ll think?

            -      Right    Left
    250 -           10         35
    500 -           10         20
    750 -           20         20
  1,000 -           20         20
  1,500 -           25         25
  2,000 -           60         40
  3,000 -           85         85
  4,000 -           85       100
  6,000 -           80        80
  8,000 -           40        40

It is hard to format this on the post, but hopefully you can see what it is.

You can give the open fit a try but it may be difficult to get the 3000 Hz frequency range (and possibly even the 2000 Hz frequency range in the right ear) to an acceptable level.

You could try something such as the Phonak Micro Power which is cosmetically similar to an open fit except it has a small custom shell but also has more power.

Thanks for the recommendation. I’m much less concerned about the look than I am the lack of an occluded ear passage. I would think any increase in those high frequencies would be a major help in understanding speech, even if it didn’t get me to where I should be.

I would be very much concern with 3000 and 4000 hrz which are pretty much
out of range of most instruments… How did you loose your hearing? Noice induce? Do you have recruitment?
I would definitely try an Inteo, maybe you could benefit from the frequency transposition tecnology?

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I believe that I damaged my ears when I was a little boy and used to get a big kick out of banging rolls of caps with a brick. I thought that the ringing in my ears after the bang was so cool. Now I get to hear it all the time. :frowning: What is recruitment?

Just a tidbit of information.

Most open fit hearing aids have a fitting range to about 80 DB (some are less) and a maximum gain of about 45 DB (high frequency average of about 40 DB) when using the ear simulator.

The fitting range is subjective and only indicates a possibility of improving a persons hearing if they fall within that range.

The maximum gain is determined by using an ear simulator which is a device that basically simulates the accustics of the human ear but overall isolates the microphone from the receiver (speaker) reducing the feedback significantly.

Even with feedback cancelling capabilities in current aids, it is highly unlikely that the human ear would perform as well as an ear simulator due to feedback and other characteristics of the ear.

In the real world you probably cannot expect more than about 30 DB maximum gain for the high frequency average. If that was the case, your hearing at 3000 Hz would increase to about 55 DB which still would not be enough to hear those sounds during a normal conversation. At 2000 Hz, your hearing would be about 30 DB and those sounds would probably be heard during a normal conversation. At 2500 Hz, you may or may not hear those sounds.

Hearing aids such as the Phonak Micro Power have a hearing range that is 100 DB or higher and a maximum gain of 64 DB (high frequency average of about 58 DB) when using the ear simulator. This increased capability is probably caused mostly by the reduced feedback due to the custom shell. If this aid can produce a real world maximum gain of about 45 DB for the high frequency range, all normal conversation sounds up to about 3500 Hz should probably be heard (although the higher frequencies will probably not be very loud).

Wow! Reality sucks. I can’t believe I am this hard of hearing. Of course my wife probably has no problem believing it. I will get HAs that the audi recommends, but even with only 30 db of gain, wouldn’t I be able to hear these frequencies much better than I do now? I realize it wouldn’t be perfect, but it seems like I would be a lot better off.

You have to remember back to what I said earlier. The harmonics at the 2800 Hz range is about 12 DB less than the fundamental frequency. If a normal person communicates with you at 60 DB fundamental frequency (normal communications), the harmonic at 2800 Hz will only be produced at about 48 DB. Since your hearing at that range has about an 80 DB loss and the gain may only be 30 DB, you will normally not hear communications sounds in that frequency range that is less that 50 DB (80-30=50). You will get some increased clarity from improvement in the 2000 Hz range or lower but the primary power consonant frequency range (about 2800 Hz) will still be missing during most normal conversations.

Unfortunately some people think that since they can hear birds singing or previously unheard background noises after getting a hearing aid that their hearing has significantly improved. True, it has improved, but it may not be that significant for conversations.

That does sound logical. Unfortunately. Hopefully my hearing test tomorrow will show that I have less of a loss. It sounds like the bottom line is that an open fitting won’t do much good for me, since it can’t provide the gain in the frequencies I need help with.

It may be worth trying open fit since you can always return them. There are no absolutes with hearing aids and are seldom like eyeglasses that correct your vision 100%.

Thanks for your advice Mike. I am very looking forward to a second test and opinion tomorrow.

I am back from my second hearing test and this time I didn’t have anything worse than 80. When I told him that my tinitus was acting up, he was able to do multiple taps that helped me distinguish the tone from the tinitus ring. He recommended a Siemens Cielo 2 S open fit. I had been looking at the Rexton Rivera at Costco, which is very similar to the Siemens Centra. I would prefer the Cielo if it will do the job. Any opinions?

dear mike
when it comes with siemens and rexton
is the same product - different packing and the software is siglhtly different.
the chip set and the processing scheme is the same
so if the rexton is cheaper but it has better fgeatures go for the rexton…

Imagine that you could buy 2 identical cars made by toyota, but one says
ABC but it is toyota just like the other., it doesnt make sense to invest to pay the brand name right?

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Thank you xbulder, but the Rexton is $300 higher per aid, because it is more comparable to the Siemens Centra; which is quite a bit more costly than the Cielo. One feature that the Rexton Rivera has that is very appealing is that each aid communicates wirelessly with the other, so that if you change a program on one, it changes the other at the same time. How many thousands of steps will that save?