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Degree of hearing loss

If you suspect that you might have some degree of hearing loss, you are probably wondering how serious it is. This page will educate you about the different levels of hearing loss and how you can seek treatment, no matter what level of hearing loss you may have.

Compare degrees of hearing loss

The severity of your hearing loss is usually measured in two ways:

  1. Loudness: How loud does a sound need to be in order for you to hear it?
  2. Pitch: Which frequencies are difficult for you to hear?

Below are the main categories for hearing loss levels with examples of sounds that might be inaudible at a given level (based on their loudness and pitch).

Level of hearing loss Decibel Symptoms Sounds you are missing
Normal hearing ≤25 dB No perceived hearing loss symptoms No sounds missing
Mild hearing loss 26-40 dB Quiet and soft conversation and situations with background noise are difficult to understand Ticking clock
Moderate hearing loss 41-60 dB When you have a moderate hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are between 41 and 60 dB. Higher volume levels are required for radio and televisions. Vacuum cleaner
Severe hearing loss 61-80 dB When you have a severe hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are between 61 and 80 dB. Difficulties with speech and group conversations; comprehension is impossible without amplification. Baby crying
Profound hearing loss ≥81 dB When you have a profound hearing loss, the quietest sounds you can hear with your better ear are 81 dB or more. Difficult or impossible to hear and understand amplified devices or speech. Airplanes

3 ways to understand the severity of your hearing loss

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Study the signs of hearing loss
Understanding the common signs of hearing loss will help with early detection.
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Reading an audiogram

An audiogram is a graph or chart that displays the results of your comprehensive hearing evaluation.

The X-axis shows the different pitches of the sounds that were played to you during your test. This axis is laid out like piano keys, where low-pitched sounds are on the left and higher pitches are towards the right of the graph.

The Y-axis shows the loudness, which increases as you go down the graph. The points on the graph demonstrate how loud the sounds needed to be in order for you to hear at each pitch test.

Circles (red) symbolize your right ear and crosses (blue) symbolize your left ear.

Book a complimentary hearing assessment to receive your own audiogram results.

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Seek early treatment for hearing loss

Gradual hearing loss is fairly common in the aging process. But this doesn't mean that it should be ignored!

Since even mild hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline1 and other consequences of untreated hearing loss, all hearing loss should be treated with hearing aids or other treatment options.

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Treating all degrees of hearing loss

If you think you have hearing loss but you've been putting off getting a hearing aid, you're not alone.

Only 1 in 4 people who could benefit from hearing devices actually use them³

While taking the first step can be the hardest part, seeking treatment as soon as possible is in your best interest. The Scripps Research Institute has found that hearing loss, when left undiagnosed or untreated, has the potential to worsen over time.2 Being proactive in seeking treatment in the early stages of hearing loss is therefore beneficial for both your current and long-term hearing health.

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3 steps to improve your hearing

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Some modern hearing aids are practically invisible, and yet they still offer excellent sound quality even in difficult listening situations.


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FAQs about hearing loss levels

Rebecca Castro
Dr. Rebecca Castro

Au.D., CCC-A, Lic. #DE 02-0010273
Dr. Rebecca Castro received her undergraduate degree from Hofstra University and her doctoral degree from Gallaudet University. Dr. Castro is committed to providing the tools and support necessary to help people with hearing loss and the deaf/hard of hearing community meet their communication goals. She is fluent in American Sign Language.

Dr. Castro is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She maintains an ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology.


1. Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O'Brien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of neurology, 68(2), 214–220.

2. *Scripps, Deafness and hearing loss research. Accessed January, 2017.