Follow Us:

Have Questions?
We have Answers

Click Here to send us a question
and to receive answers from our Experts

Difference between Severe and Profound Hearing Loss

by Nathan Williams, Audiology Expert
April 15, 2016

Question: What is the difference between severe and profound hearing loss?

Answer: Hearing thresholds are plotted on an audiogram, where softer sounds are near the top, and louder sounds are near the bottom. There are two categories of hearing loss near the bottom of the audiogram: severe and profound. Hearing loss is most commonly classified as severe when thresholds are between 71 and 90 dB HL. Profound hearing loss is most commonly classified when thresholds are poorer than 90 dB HL (including no response at the limits of the test equipment).

Functionally, a person with severe hearing loss requires conversational partners to talk using an elevated voice and to be in close proximity. This person would have considerable trouble following a conversation with a group or in a noisy environment. A person with profound hearing loss would have limited ability to hear conversations even if their communication partner uses an elevated voice.

For people with severe hearing loss, significantly improved audibility is possible using power hearing aids. These people may continue experiencing difficulty hearing in large groups and when there is other room noise. These people may get substantial benefit from assistive devices such as remote microphones or devices deigned to stream audio from TV or phones directly into the hearing aids.

If one has profound hearing loss, audibility may be limited even with hearing aids, especially if thresholds approximate the lower range of profound or there is no response at several frequencies. This person would receive considerable benefit from assistive devices or may have improved performance with a cochlear implant (if person meets candidacy criteria).

Nathan Williams, Au.D., CCC-A is an Audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. Using age-appropriate hearing evaluations, he provides recommendations for improved communication and fits hearing aids and assistive listening devices for children and adults. Additionally, he conducts workshops for community centers and businesses in the greater Omaha area.

See more of Nathan Williams's expert answers

Your Answers and Comments

Post your answer or comment
You must be logged in to post a comment

Previous Expert Q & A

More Previous Expert Q&A