Deaf and Hard of Hearing: What’s the Difference?

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The terms deaf and hard of hearing can be used to describe people with hearing loss. However, they’re not always used to explain the same condition. Both terms have different meanings that depend on the patient’s degree of hearing loss.

Patients expect great sound quality and the ability to control and personalize their hearing aids. Thanks to modern technology, you can become a Phonak Provider and partner, allowing you to deliver personalized digital solutions to better your client’s hearing.

In most situations, hearing aids can improve your hearing if your hearing loss is greater than 40 dB HL, while cochlear implants are recommended for people whose hearing loss is greater than 70 dB HL.

Learn more about the difference between being “deaf” and “hard of hearing” in this post.

Degrees of Hearing Loss

Various degrees of hearing loss can affect your ability to hear and communicate with others or your surroundings.

As with all other senses, hearing varies in intensity, depending on your ear’s ability to detect sound and the brain’s ability to interpret them. It is measured on a decibel (dB) unit and hearing loss (HL) scale.  A patient’s sense of hearing can vary between mild and profound. More on that later in the post.

How are the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Different?

As aforementioned, audiologists use both terms to refer to patients with some form of hearing loss. On a more detailed note, here is the definition of both terms:

“Hard of hearing” refers more to patients with some degree of hearing loss. This can vary from mild to profound. Generally, being hard of hearing means you cannot hear as well or sharply as someone with normal hearing.

Audiologists consider patients to be hard of hearing when their hearing thresholds are at 25dB or lower in both ears.

Alternatively, “deafness” refers to people with profound hearing loss. These people have a much higher hearing threshold (greater than 90 dB or higher) in both ears. Such patients often have profound hearing loss (very little to no hearing).

Difference Between Being Deaf and Being Hard of Hearing

As mentioned, the main difference between being deaf and hard of hearing is in the degree of hearing loss of the patient.

There Are different degrees of hearing loss that a patient may experience, including:

  • Mild – you can hear softer or subtler sounds
  • Moderate – you find it harder to hear speech and other sounds at a normal volume
  • Severe – you may hear loud sounds but find it very difficult to hear sounds at a normal volume
  • Profound – you can hear only very loud sounds or not hear sounds at all

Naturally, someone that is hard of hearing experiences mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss. These people still have some hearing capability.

On the other hand, deafness refers to people with profound hearing loss. Such individuals have very little to no hearing at all.

Options Available for Hard of Hearing and Deaf People

Technological advancements allow us to bring enormous change to the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people. Like anyone else, people with hearing impairments also dream of a normal life. Admittedly, it is not always easy to communicate using household and other digital equipment.

That is why the teletype (TTY) was created for people with severe or profound hearing loss. TTY allows you to transmit a transcript of your communication in real-time. Similarly, television and other media outlets started broadcasting special subtitles and captions for their content. This allows even deaf people to watch TV comfortably or even catch a movie at the movie theater.

The so-called sign language has also long existed, allowing people with similar hearing problems to communicate with each other easily. As it turns out, deaf people can also enjoy the benefits of civilization along with everyone else. They can go to work, communicate over the phone, catch a movie at the theaters, gyms, restaurants, and more.

Treatments Available for People with Hearing Issues

Today, modern medicine allows people with hearing issues to lead a full life and support themselves. Of course, the treatment options depend on the type of hearing issue you have. We recommend you seek professional help from an audiologist when you discover symptoms of hearing loss.

Untimely treatment may also provoke the development of more complications. Modern medicine is proving to be striking in its effectiveness and capabilities. Today’s doctors use the latest generation hearing aids and cochlear implants. Some of the most common hearing tech accessories include:

· Using Hearing Aids

The use of hearing aids is a common method for managing hearing issues. Millions of people use hearing aids to improve their hearing and quality of life.

· Surgical Intervention

Cochlear implants play a significant role in allowing you to hear again. Surgeons can implant them surgically in your temporal bone, but you must first qualify for the surgery. In most situations, cochlear implants are preferred if hearing aids are no longer an option.

Hearing Loss is Manageable and Treatable

The earlier you catch and address hearing loss symptoms, the more likely you can avoid irreversible hearing damage. You can manage and treat hearing loss when you address the condition early.

Get the answers you need for your hearing loss and start treatment today.