Mild Hearing Loss
Definition and signs of mild hearing loss.
Deafness is the most severe form of hearing loss, but of course hearing loss comes in less severe forms as well. In fact, the majority of people who have a
are not deaf.
The severity of a person's hearing loss is classified according to the faintest sound that the person can hear, measured and averaged across a range of frequencies (pitches).
Degrees of hearing loss
range from "slight" to "profound." For a person with no hearing problem, the faintest sound that can be heard is
and a hearing threshold of up to 15 dB is considered normal. If the softest sound that a person can hear falls between 26 and 40 decibels, that person is classified as having "mild hearing loss."
What does that mean, in practical terms? Well, consider that if you plug your ears with your fingers, that creates a "hearing loss" of 25–30 dB — that would be categorized as a mild degree of hearing loss.
Hear a realistic simulation of what this level of hearing loss sounds like.
Many people who have hearing loss don't realize it. If it is caused by repeated frequent exposure to moderately high levels of noise, it happens so gradually that it's easy not to notice it. Most doctors don't test hearing during routine check-ups, and since a person with a mild form of hearing loss will probably have no problem understanding a doctor one-on-one in a quiet office, the doctor is not likely to notice anything wrong.
But even though it can go unnoticed in some situations, mild hearing loss is a genuine hearing impairment. The main effect is that it's
harder to understand what people are saying,
especially if there is any background noise or if several people are talking at once. Ordinary conversation is still possible, but it takes a bit more effort to make out the words, and sometimes people have to repeat themselves; misunderstandings can creep in. Often, it's friends and family members who will be the first to notice that there's a problem.
Keeping it from Getting Worse
Most people who have
lost some of their hearing due to noise
have hearing loss that is slight or mild. That lost hearing can never be regained. With continued exposure to
too much noise,
the impairment can worsen. If you have already lost some of your hearing, it's that much more important to
take care of the good hearing you have left.
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