When you have severe to profound hearing loss, you will only be able to hear very loud speech or sounds, and you cannot hear speech at a conversational level. The fact that it is called profound hearing loss gives a lot away about how much the hearing ability of a person will actually be affected. For people with profound hearing loss, loud sounds are mainly only perceived as vibrations.
The degrees of hearing loss can often vary for sounds of different pitches, and the best hearing for those with profound hearing loss is in the low pitches. More than 360 million people around the world live every day with hearing loss, and out of these people, 10% of them have severe to profound hearing loss, which is something that can occur at any age.
You might be left wondering what exactly profound hearing loss is, and what is classed as profound hearing loss. Well, we are going to tell you everything that you need to know about profound hearing loss in this article to help you to better understand it.
What is Profound Hearing Loss?
Hearing impairment is defined by the quietest levels of sound that you can hear. Your hearing threshold will be measured in decibels, and these hearing thresholds are designed to categorize your hearing as either normal, mild, moderate, severe, or profound impairment.
A severe hearing loss would typically be classed as threshold levels of 71 to 95 decibels. A profound hearing loss is threshold levels that are in excess of 95 decibels. To help you to better understand what this means, it can be helpful to know that:
- 70dB is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner at a distance of 1 metre
- 90dB is the average volume of a jackhammer at a distance of 15 metres
- 100dB is the average volume of a disco speaker at a distance of 1 metre
People that have severe to profound hearing loss will usually need to lip read or use sign language to communicate, even when using a hearing aid. Profound hearing loss is typically managed through methods of amplification, wider audiological rehabilitation, and referral for cochlear implant assessment when needed.
Diagnosing Profound Hearing Loss
When you are diagnosed with profound hearing loss, you will have undergone a hearing test. Following on from this, you will have the opportunity to discuss hearing loss and the difficulties that are associated with it.
You may be referred for more specialist hearing tests in some instances, and further appointments are often arranged with you to go through your options. Your doctor will be able to provide you with more information about hearing aids, communication tactics, listening devices, and other services.
Key challenges For Those With Profound Hearing Loss
Those that live with profound hearing loss will often struggle in noisy environments, as it can be really difficult to follow a conversation in a busy environment with a lot of background noise.
It also becomes more difficult to hear clarity of speech, even if sounds are made louder with hearing aids. This can make it difficult to understand speech. Something else that can be made really difficult is talking on the phone, and it may not be possible for everyone.
Common Coping Strategies for Profound Hearing Loss
One of the most common coping strategies for people that live with profound hearing loss is relying on visual clues.
Many people that have profound hearing loss will learn to lip read over time as this will help them to understand speech that they are unable to hear or hear clearly. This can help in normal day to day conversation, and it can even be beneficial over the phone through apps like facetime, so you can still keep in touch verbally.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound:
- Mild Hearing Loss – A person with a mild hearing loss may hear some speech sounds but soft sounds are hard to hear.
- Moderate Hearing Loss – A person with a moderate hearing loss may hear almost no speech when another person is talking at a normal level.
- Severe Hearing Loss – A person with severe hearing loss will hear no speech when a person is talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds.
- Profound Hearing Loss – A person with a profound hearing loss will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds.
Mild Hearing Loss
On average, the quietest sounds that people with mild hearing loss are able to hear with their ears are between 25 and 34 decibels.
People that suffer from mild hearing loss will normally find it difficult to keep up in conversations in noisy surroundings.
Moderate Hearing Loss
Those that suffer from moderate hearing loss will be able to hear sounds that are no quieter than between 35 and 49 decibels on average.
This means that those with moderate hearing loss can often find it difficult to hear in many different situations, and they can have difficulties keeping up in conversations. People with moderate hearing loss will benefit from using hearing aids.
Moderately Severe Hearing Loss
On average, the quietest sounds that those with moderately severe hearing loss will be able to hear with their better ear are between 50 and 64 decibels.
People that suffer from moderately severe hearing loss will usually have problems hearing in most situations if they are not using a hearing aid.
Severe Hearing Loss
The quietest sounds that people with severe hearing loss will be able to hear are usually between 65 and 79 decibels.
Those that suffer from severe hearing loss are very hard of hearing, and will typically have to use very powerful hearing aids. They may also rely on lip-reading, even when they are using a hearing aid.
Profound Hearing Loss
Those with profound hearing loss can typically not hear anything below 80 decibels, and they will have a very weak sense of hearing.
They will need strong hearing aids or implants, and may rely on lip reading or sign language.