Measured in degrees, hearing loss is divided into levels that are based on a person’s auditory thresholds, or the softest sounds (decibels), they can hear.

There are five general degrees of hearing loss:

Mild (20 – 40 dB HL threshold)

With mild hearing loss, it is difficult to hear soft speech or distinguish sounds when there is background noise.

Moderate (41 – 55 dB HL threshold)
Moderate hearing loss makes it difficult to hear conversations, especially when there is background noise.

Moderate – Severe (56 – 70 dB HL threshold)

It is difficult to hearing moderate speech when background noise is present. The TV or radio may need to be turned up to be heard clearly.

Severe (71 – 90 dB HL threshold)
With severe hearing loss, normal conversations are not audible. Loud speech may also be difficult to hear or understand. People with severe hearing loss are only able to hear when speech is amplified—by shouting, turning up volume, or with hearing aids.

Profound (91 dB HL or higher threshold)
People with profound hearing loss may have difficulty understanding even amplified speech.