How Bad Does Your Hearing Have to Be to Get a Hearing Aid?

Do you suspect that your hearing is not what it was? Do you feel as though you are experiencing hearing loss? If so, you are not alone. In the United States, approximately 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss.

If you or a loved one suspect hearing loss, you may have a lot of questions. One may be how bad your hearing has to be to get a hearing aid.

As hearing healthcare professionals, this is a question we are often asked. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. Hearing loss is not a one-size-fits-all condition. As a result, hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all option.

Types of Hearing Loss

Before determining if hearing aids are an option for you, it’s important to understand the different types of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be categorized into two main types: sensorineural and conductive. In some cases, people may experience both types of hearing loss, a type known as mixed hearing loss.

Sensorineural is the most common type of hearing loss. This hearing loss is the result of damage in your inner ear. The natural aging process is a common contributing factor to sensorineural hearing loss. Exposure to dangerous levels of sound can also result in sensorineural hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is most commonly caused by an obstruction or blockage in your ear. This could be the result of too much earwax, or it could be a buildup of fluid. In some cases, it could also be caused by a tumor. This obstruction or blockage interferes with our brain’s ability to process sounds, resulting in hearing loss.

Levels of Hearing Loss

Just as there is more than one type of hearing loss, there are also different levels of hearing loss. The Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) recognizes five levels of hearing loss. These include:

  • Mild Hearing Loss – Mild hearing loss has a hearing threshold of 25 – 40 dB. With this hearing loss, quiet or soft conversations could be difficult to understand. This is often worsened by noisy environments, such as a restaurant.
  • Moderate Hearing Loss – Moderate hearing loss has a hearing threshold of 40 – 60 dB. At this level, speech becomes more difficult to understand. You likely listen to the TV or radio at higher volumes than you used to.
  • Moderately Severe Hearing Loss – Moderately severe hearing loss has a hearing threshold of 60 – 80 dB. At this level, group conversations are difficult to follow or understand. Normal speech volumes are challenging to hear.
  • Severe Hearing Loss – Severe hearing loss has a hearing threshold of 80 – 90 dB. At this level, amplification is needed to understand speech.
  • Profound Hearing Loss – Profound hearing loss has a hearing threshold of 90 dB and up. At this level, very loud sounds such as jet engines or emergency sirens can be inaudible without amplification.

How Bad Does Your Hearing Have to Be to Get a Hearing Aid?

As we mentioned above, there is no clear answer to this question. It will depend on the type of your hearing loss, as well as the severity. Additionally, people experience hearing loss differently. Put simply, hearing loss is a unique condition. As a result, the hearing solutions must be equally unique.

People with mild to moderate hearing loss can benefit from hearing aid devices, leading to improved quality of life. For those with more severe hearing loss, hearing aid devices could end up being a life-changing investment. To determine if hearing aids are the right solution for you, it’s important to work with your local hearing healthcare practitioner. They will be able to assess your hearing, and go through potential options for you. They will be able to advise if hearing aids are appropriate, and talk you through the various features and options.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.