The Sound of Wellness: Expert Insights on Hearing and Audiology

The Hearing Association of America revealed that about 48 million people in the USA have some degree of hearing loss. This worrying statistic shows the need to learn about hard of hearing and hearing loss. So what is the difference between the two?  This piece will focus on the hardness of hearing, its symptoms, and when to seek help.

woman and child playing piano

Some people find it hard to converse with friends or family, especially in a place with a nosy background. This is a common sign of hearing loss and could affect careers or relationships. People with some degree of hearing loss can fall into the hard-of-hearing category.

Difference Between Hard of Hearing and Deafness

Although both terms describe people with a degree of hearing loss, hard of hearing typically describes the hearing loss, which could be mild or severe. However, deafness is a total loss of hearing. People who are hard of hearing typically use relevant hearing aids to amplify the sound or consider a cochlear implant after hearing and audiology tests. Deaf people can use lip-reading, sign language, captioning, and messaging devices to enhance communication.

Difference Between Hard of Hearing and Hearing loss

Although the two terms are related, there is a noteworthy difference. Hard of hearing describes a person struggling with hearing loss, which could be mild or severe. Hearing loss may affect one ear or both ears and falls into four categories: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Severe hearing loss describes the inability to hear normal speech and loud noises. Profound hearing loss describes people who only hear certain loud sounds. Mild hearing loss describes difficulty hearing soft sounds, while moderate hearing loss refers to the challenge of following conversations when there is background noise.

What Causes Hard of Hearing?

Hard of hearing can be caused by many factors, including aging, injury, infections, genetics, medications, congenital abnormalities, and untreated medical conditions in the internal ear. For example, hearing loss seems to affect more elderly people as the internal parts of the ear age. Similarly, some hearing loss might affect people from families with a history of hearing loss. Certain medications, such as antibiotics or chemotherapy, could also contribute to hearing loss. Injuries such as trauma to the head and exposure to loud noise without protective gear could also lead to hearing loss. With all these possible causes, it is important to consult a specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Tests and Diagnosis

Audiologists use tests to assess the patients’ ability to perceive sound. The tests include an audiometric exam, which determines the hearing ability of each ear. They also use a brain response test, which involves paying attention to the brain response to sound.


Audiologists can treat hard of hearing using different methods, depending on the cause and extent of the problem. For example, they can use hearing aids to amplify sounds in the case of mild hearing loss. They might also recommend assistive devices that bring sound to the ear and cancel background noise. A cochlear implant is a common surgical procedure that can restore hearing for people with profound or severe hearing loss. People with speaking challenges might also benefit from speech therapy.

It is important for people who are hard of hearing to take measures to protect their remaining hearing ability as they seek treatment. They should visit reputable audiologists when they notice early signs of hearing loss for timely diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. This helps improve or reverse hearing ability and prevent deafness.

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