Understanding the 5 Stages of Hearing Loss

Understanding the 5 Stages of Hearing Loss

Have you noticed a need to turn up the volume louder than you used to on the television? Does it seem like the people around you aren’t enunciating or are mumbling more than they should? You could be struggling with hearing loss

This common condition affects at least 15% of American adults, and it can strike at any age, though your risk increases as your age advances. Other risk factors for hearing loss include:

One of the trickiest things about hearing loss is that the symptoms vary from person to person, and it doesn’t occur all at once, making it challenging to know when it begins and when it’s time to seek help. At Jacksonville ENT Surgery, we understand. 

Our compassionate providers, Charles Greene, MD, PhD, and Tara Condrey, PA-C, and the entire care team offer hearing loss evaluations and treatment at our three Jacksonville, Florida, offices and in Lake City, Florida. 

We also know that understanding the five stages of hearing loss can be the first step in knowing when to seek help. We’ve put our heads together to create this accessible guide on the subject so you have the information you need. 

Stage 1: Mild hearing loss

Stage 1, or mild hearing loss, is diagnosed when the quietest sounds you can hear are between 25 and 34 decibels (dB). Here’s a quick guide to understanding decibel levels using some common sounds:

People with stage 1 hearing loss may have difficulty hearing soft consonant sounds in speech, but struggle less with sharp or loud vowel sounds. 

If you’re in this stage of hearing loss, you probably have trouble following conversations from time to time, especially when there’s a lot of background noise or in crowded situations. You may also struggle to hear young children and some sounds in quieter settings, like water dripping or a ticking clock.

Stage 2: Moderate hearing loss

Stage 2, or moderate hearing loss, is diagnosed when the quietest sounds you can hear are between 35 and 49 dB. This is typically the stage in which we recommend beginning hearing aids as the hearing loss is usually significant enough to impact daily life

Moderate hearing loss makes it difficult to hear in many situations and affects your ability to participate fully in most conversations, and you may struggle to hear parts of telephone conversations.

Stage 3: Moderately severe hearing loss

When the quietest sounds you can hear are between 50 and 64 dB, the diagnosis is stage 3, or moderately severe hearing loss. Once you’ve reached this stage of hearing loss, it’s difficult to hear most sounds without the assistance of hearing aids.

People with stage 3 hearing loss find it very difficult to participate in conversational speech, and probably can’t hear loud sounds, even when they’re nearby, like a dog barking or the vacuum cleaner running.

Stage 4: Severe hearing loss

Severe, or stage 4, hearing loss is the diagnosis when the quietest sounds you can detect fall between 65 and 79 dB. With severe hearing loss, you need strong hearing aids to navigate daily life since this stage is considered very hard of hearing.

With stage 4 hearing loss, you cannot hear conversational speech at all, and you’ll likely struggle to hear loud speech. Most loud sounds, such as a baby near you, go unnoticed.

Stage 5: Profound hearing loss

Stage 5, or profound hearing loss, occurs when the quietest sound you can hear is 80 dB or higher. Hearing loss at this level usually requires powerful hearing aids or implants to help you hear well.

When you’re in stage 4 (severe) or stage 5 (profound), you may notice that you rely on nonaural cues, like lip-reading, sign language, or a combination of methods, to communicate with others.

Treating hearing loss

Rest assured that when you visit the team at Jacksonville ENT Surgery, we work hard to understand your unique hearing loss patterns and customize a treatment plan for your unique needs.

If you’re struggling with hearing loss, contact the compassionate team at Jacksonville ENT Surgery for a hearing loss evaluation and personalize treatments. Call the Jacksonville or Lake City, Florida, office nearest you, or request an appointment online now. 

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