It might sound unbelievable, but your hearing is as unique as your fingerprint. It’s true. Two people can have the same degree and type of hearing loss, even share similar properties of hearing loss and still not have the same hearing loss needs. Don’t believe us? Well, YourHearing is here to help you understand just how unique your hearing is to you.
What goes into making your hearing so unique? First let’s take a look at the different types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural: The hearing loss takes place within the inner ear.
Conductive: The hearing loss takes places in the outer or middle ear.
Mixed: The hearing loss takes place within a combination inner, outer or middle ear.
Okay. Three isn’t a big number. And surely doesn’t seem that unique. But, hold on, even if you have the same type of hearing loss as someone else, you might not have the same degree. Here are the different degrees of hearing loss:
- Slight Hearing Loss: between 16 to 25 dB
- Mild Hearing Loss: between 26 to 40 dB
- Moderate Hearing Loss: between 41 to 55 dB
- Moderately Severe Hearing Loss: between 56 to 70 dB
- Severe Hearing Loss: between 71 to 90 dB
- Profound Hearing Loss: between 90 + dB
That makes things a little more interesting. How do you know your degree of hearing loss? Your degree of hearing loss is determined by an audiogram. An audiogram measures how clearly you hear sounds measured by decibels (dB) at different frequencies measured by hertz (Hz). To make it simple think of notes on a piano. A note on a scale might be higher Hz but not louder dB. The clearer your hearing, the more hertz frequencies you can hear at lower decibels. So when you have your hearing assessed think of Chubby Checker’s Limbo Rock, “How low can you go? How low can you go?”
A person with average hearing can hear different (Hz) at as low as between negative 10 to 15 dB. That’s fairly low. For reference a jackhammer is an ear cracking 140 decibels.
To better understand an audiogram, let’s take a look at a single sample line from one.
Frequency (Hz) Right Ear Left Ear
250 Hz 30 dB 35dB
So for this example, the decibel has to be as loud as 30 in one ear and 35 in the other ear for a person to hear the frequency of 250 hertz. But that’s just how each ear receives one Hz frequency. The degree of hearing loss not only changes with each Hz, and you are measured up to 8000 Hz, it can change with each ear.
Some people can have high-frequency hearing loss in one ear and have average hearing in the other. Are you starting to see how unique your hearing is?
Here’s how a hearing health professional will define the different ways you can experience hearing loss:
Bilateral Hearing Loss—Bi means two. This means that both of your ears have hearing loss. Not to worry, today’s hearing aids can compensate for this type of two ear hearing loss better than at any time in the past.
Unilateral Hearing Loss—Uni means one. This is the term for hearing loss in one ear.
Symmetrical hearing loss—Both of your ears have the exact same degree of loss.
Asymmetrical hearing loss—One of your ears has a different level of loss than the other.
Okay, so you can see that your hearing is pretty unique, as is your level of hearing loss, but here are also different ways your hearing loss can happen, improve or get worse. Those things are defined with these terms:
Progressive—Progressive hearing loss means that your hearing loss didn’t happen overnight. It has been getting worse for some time and will likely continue to do so.
Sudden Hearing Loss—Your hearing loss happened all at once. And sudden hearing loss doesn’t always happen because of some obvious ear trauma—like an explosion. You can wake up one day and have a clogged feeling in your ears that never goes away. FYI: If you woke up with a clogged feeling in one or more ears call a hearing health specialist immediately! Sometimes sudden hearing loss can be reversed.
Fluctuating Hearing Loss—This means that your hearing loss may get better or worse over time.
Stable Hearing Loss—This is used to describe hearing loss that will stay the same.
In addition to all of these different ways your hearing is unique, there’s one last thing that makes your hearing unique to you—your brain. How your brain processes sounds—your personal likes and dislikes of loudness levels and noises are all unique to you. That’s because your hearing takes place in your brain and your affection or aversion to sounds is based on your life experiences and sensitivities. When you lose your hearing, your brain loses the ability to process sounds. When you get hearing aids, your brain works to adjust to the new sounds its hearing.
So think about this—hearing technology has the job of creating a hearing instrument specifically suited to your unique hearing loss and your individual tastes. That’s a big order! When you look at it that way, it makes sense that finding a hearing professional who listens to you and is available to adjust and readjust your hearing instrument to your preferred settings is essential. If you need help finding just such a person, you’ve come to the right place. YourHearing can connect you with a hearing health professional right in your area!