When it comes to health concerns, including hearing loss, people often wonder: how bad is too bad. How serious does a condition need to be before it goes from being an annoyance to something that requires medical attention? If you have mild hearing loss, you may think it’s not serious and can be ignored, at least for now.
Mild hearing loss is defined by hearing healthcare professionals as hearing thresholds on an audiogram that are between 26 and 40 decibels (dB) across certain frequencies or pitches. Having a hearing loss doesn’t just mean sounds aren’t loud enough. Oftentimes, it means sounds aren’t clear enough either. People with mild hearing loss often notice that they can hear but they can’t understand conversations clearly.
If you have mild hearing loss, the most difficult sounds of speech – consonant sounds like “f” and “th” or “k” and “p” – can be lost during a conversation. That means it will be difficult for you to clearly distinguish between words. For example, the word “death” may sound like “deaf.” Throw in some poor room acoustics, background noise that is distracting or a soft-spoken conversation partner, and even a mild hearing loss can pose major challenges.