Understanding mild, severe, and profound hearing loss

Symptoms and causes of mild, severe, and profound hearing loss, who gets it, and what to do.

Who has hearing loss?

About 48 million Americans, (1 in 6 people), suffer from mild, severe, or profound hearing loss. While there are many causes of hearing loss, the most common are aging and noise-induced hearing damage. 
 
Curious if you or a loved one has signs of hearing loss? Check your hearing from the comfort of home with our fast, free online hearing test. 
 
If the test reveals a potential hearing loss, there are many treatment options available.
Take a free online hearing test

Levels of hearing loss

There are two levels of hearing loss: mild-to-moderate and severe-to-profound.

We hear sounds with tiny nerves called hair cells located in our inner ears. Our outer hair cells help us hear soft sounds, and our inner hair cells help us hear high and low-pitched sounds.

People with mild-to-moderate hearing loss have lost some outer hair cells and have trouble understanding softer sounds, such as the voices of women and children. People with severe hearing loss have lost both inner and outer hair cells, making it harder to hear soft sounds as well as distinguish between high and low-pitched sounds. 

Three types of hearing loss:

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is often temporary and can sometimes be corrected with wax removal, allergy or sinus medication, changing a medication, or surgery. 
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Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for 90% of all adult hearing problems and is generally related to aging and a history of noise exposure. Hearing aids are the treatment of choice for sensorineural hearing damage. 
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Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss happens when conductive and sensorineural losses occur together. Mixed hearing loss can be helped by wax removal, medication, surgery, and/or hearing aids.
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Signs of hearing loss

If you’re experiencing any of the below signs of hearing loss, it’s important to find out why.

 
It’s hard to hear, understand, or follow the words of others when they speak.

 
People seem to speak softly, mumble, slur or drop words, or talk too quickly.

 
You often ask people to repeat themselves.

 
Telephone and video chats are hard to hear clearly.

 
On the telephone, you find yourself straining to distinguish words, “plugging” your non-phone ear, or using earbuds at a medium to high volume with your phone?

 
You sometimes miss text message dings, the doorbell, a ringing phone, or your name being called.

 
You struggle to understand speech in noisy places, such as restaurants.

 
You prefer the television volume louder than friends and family members.

 
You hear a ringing sound in one or both ears.

Only a comprehensive hearing screening conducted by a licensed hearing care professional can tell you all the facts. Let our hearing care professionals give your ears the respect they deserve.

Causes and impacts of hearing loss

Prolonged exposure to noise and getting older top the list for the causes of hearing loss. Other culprits include ear infections, genetics, head injuries, certain medications, Tinnitus, and illnesses such as meningitis and Alzheimer’s disease.  


Letting a hearing loss go untreated can have a ripple effect. An inability to hear words clearly can negatively affect your family, social, and work lives, and can actually harm your overall health. 

Learn more about Meningitis and hearing Loss

Learn more about Alzheimer's and hearing loss

Amlzheimer's and hearing loss

Hearing aids to the rescue

Modern hearing aids are tiny, refined, electronic wonders that use the latest wireless technology including Bluetooth®. There’s a model and style of hearing aid for virtually every level and type of hearing loss. 


Best of all, hearing aids enhance relationships, boost confidence, improve quality of life and can even help prevent a hearing loss from getting worse. 

Learn more about Beltone hearing aids
Digital hearing aids

What to do if you suspect a hearing loss 

We know this decision can feel overwhelming. Come in to your local Beltone Center, and talk to one of our hearing care professionals and get a free hearing evaluation. 

Our hearing care practitioners will perform a comprehensive exam, assess your level of hearing loss, and discuss options for treatment. 
Request a free appointment
Find a hearing care professional to request a free appointment

Want to know more about the ear?

Do you have additional questions about the ear anatomy?  Would you like to know more about hearing loss, or get a free hearing screening to assess your level of hearing loss?  A Beltone hearing care professional can help!

How to prevent hearing damage?

Take steps now to prevent a hearing loss later.
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The role of earbuds and hearing loss.

How to choose earbuds and headphones wisely?
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What happens at a hearing screening?

Learn what to expect when you get your hearing checked.
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