How is a mild hearing loss measured? We measure hearing levels in decibels. Decibels (dB) are measured logarithmically, not on linear or straight line. For example, if you have a hearing loss that averages 30dB, you would need a sound to be six times louder to faintly hear than someone who has threshold levels that average 0dB. We define a mild hearing loss as having threshold levels between 26 and 40 dBHL. Threshold level means the softest sound heard at each frequency or pitch.
Mild Can be a Misleading Word
Mild should not be used to classify any degree of hearing loss. The assumption is that the problem is minute or minimal. Anyone with a mild hearing loss will struggle to hear in noisy listening situations. The degree to which they try to cope will depend on many factors including:
- The distance the listener is from what they want to hear
- How far the listener is from any competing noise
- The volume of what the listener does not want to hear compared to what the listener wants to hear
The Impact of a Mild Hearing Loss
You and your spouse go out to dinner at a nice restaurant. You arrive early, order dinner and begin to converse. At first, even though you have a mild hearing loss, you had no trouble understanding your spouse. By the time you ordered dessert, you were tired, no longer wanted to converse and frankly had no idea any longer what your spouse was saying.
Initially, the restaurant had few other dinners and was relatively quiet. In spite of your mild hearing loss, you were able to piece together the conversation with minimal effort. The restaurant began to fill up. Consequently, the noise level began to increase. As the noise level increase, the effort to “piece together” the conversation became taxing. After an hour of struggling to hear you were tired. Getting out of the restaurant and going home became more important than to keep trying to piece together the conversation.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to get your hearing checked. You have a problem. The impact your mild hearing loss is having on your quality of life is anything but minimal.