When diagnosing hearing loss, your audiologist will indicate what level of deafness your child has. Below are some definitions of hearing range in dB to be expected with each category as well as some broader things to expect according to the hearing loss levels your child has.
For many people, when they think of the term ‘deaf’, they imagine an absolute inability to hear any sound but this is very rarely the case. There are varying degrees of hearing loss both in terms of intensity (volume) and frequency (pitch) of sounds.
When your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, it’s really important to understand the different levels of deafness and what they can mean for your child’s development and perceptions of the world. Hearing loss can differ greatly between each ear and be unilateral (affecting only one ear) or bilateral (affecting both ears).
One of the most complex aspects of understanding a child or adult’s hearing loss is the fact that hearing loss does not occur at a consistent level regardless of pitch. Hearing loss can be defined as low frequency or high frequency and hearing loss in the higher frequencies are most common. If your child is fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implants, your audiologist will adjust the device to take frequency of hearing loss as well as intensity of hearing loss into account.
Mild hearing loss is classified as a hearing level with a range between 21-40 decibels (dB). Mild hearing loss can be very hard to spot and diagnose at a young age but oto-acoustic emissions (OAE) screening at birth is helping audiology professions to catch hearing loss early.
Some factors of mild hearing loss:
Moderate hearing loss is classified as a range of hearing between 41-70 decibels (dB). Moderate hearing loss can potentially cause significant speech delay if not diagnosed early, and possibly poor speech production and a monotone, flat voice quality.
Some factors of moderate hearing loss:
Severe hearing loss is classified as a hearing range between 71-90 decibels (dB). Severe hearing loss will likely have a great impact on the hearing and understanding of speech even when aided. Depending on whether hair cell death has occurred in outer and inner cells, causing a total loss of high frequency sound perception, cochlear implants may be chosen over BTE (behind the ear) hearing aids. Lack of ability to distinguish between frequency (pitch) of sound is likely to cause as flat voice quality.
Some factors of severe hearing loss:
Profound hearing loss is classified as a hearing range below 91dB. With both inner and outer hair cell death, the ability to distinguish between frequencies or pitches, is no longer there and there will most likely be a flat voice quality. There may be struggles with hearing aids, as they may make sounds easier to hear, but not to understand.
Some factors of profound hearing loss: