One study published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education reports that approximately “1 in 20 Americans are currently deaf or hard of hearing.” After learning this, you may be wonder what exactly the difference is between being deaf and hard of hearing. We answer this question below.
Classifications of Hearing Ability
It is not the case that you’re either deaf not deaf; hearing ability exists on a spectrum, from normal hearing to profound hearing loss. Hearing ability is classified as follows:
- Normal hearing. This means you can hear even very quiet sounds, like breathing and leaves rustling.
- Slight hearing loss. This means that, though you may miss very quiet sounds, you can hear normal speech sounds with ease.
- Mild hearing loss. This means that you can hear most speech sounds but may have trouble distinguishing between certain consonant sounds.
- Moderate hearing loss. This means that you may have trouble distinguishing between certain vowel sounds in addition to certain consonants.
- Moderately severe hearing loss. This means you may have trouble hearing any speech sounds unless someone is raising their voice.
- Severe hearing loss. This means you cannot hear any speech sounds without amplification.
- Profound hearing loss. This means you cannot hear even loud sounds without amplification.
Difference Between Being Deaf & Hard of Hearing
If you’re deaf, it means you have profound hearing loss. If you’re hard of hearing, it means your hearing loss is somewhere between mild and severe.
How Hearing Loss Is Treated
If you have normal hearing or slight hearing loss, you probably don’t need any treatment.
If you have mild to severe hearing loss, the gold standard of treatment is hearing aids. These medical devices work by amplifying sounds to a level the damaged ear can detect. There are many types of hearing aids, and most boast amazing features that can help you hear well in the most complex listening environments.
If you have severe to profound hearing loss, you may have more success with cochlear implants. These surgically-implanted devices work by bypassing the damaged parts of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. They are appropriate for people who do not have success with hearing aids. However, many people with more severe hearing loss find American Sign Language (ASL) to be a more natural way to communicate.
For more information about hearing loss or to schedule an appointment, call Today's Hearing today.