How is hearing loss measured?

We often see, and hear from, clients who report that they have been told that they have a certain percentage of hearing loss. Some have questioned this further, while others simply accept the percentage number.

Hearing loss should not be described by percentage loss. This is because:

1) we measure the severity of hearing loss in decibel levels and decibels are logarithmic. Each 10 decibel increase is 10 times the sound pressure level of the previous 10 decibel level.

 2) Hearing loss severity most often varies by frequency, and it should be noted that different frequencies have different values in relation to speech understanding. For example, 2000 Hz is most heavily weighted on the articulation index, which means it carries the weight of what we need to hear in order to understand speech.   

So, hearing and hearing loss should be described not in percentage of hearing loss but rather in terms of severity and configuration. For example, Mr. Smith was diagnosed with a mild high frequency sensorineural hearing loss, or Mrs. Smith was diagnosed with a flat moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss, etc. I encourage anyone that has been told that they have a percentage of hearing loss to seek a second opinion from a Registered Audiologist; an audiologist will know not to describe hearing loss by percentage of loss.

If you have any questions or concerns about your hearing loss diagnosis, please contact us.


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