Hearing loss affects patients of all ages and is one of the most common impairments in the United States. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 48 million Americans have reported some degree of hearing loss. Having trouble hearing can make it difficult to detect, recognize, discriminate, comprehend, and perceive auditory information for speech and language. It is important to identify hearing loss in children as early as possible to prevent them from developing speech, language, and learning delays. Adults with hearing loss may find it difficult to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers, which may cause frustration and embarrassment. Hearing loss affects the quality of life for both children and adults if left undiagnosed and untreated, and may be even become dangerous in environmental situations.
Hearing loss is typically evaluated based on type, degree, and shape. Types of hearing loss include conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Degree
of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss from mild to profound, and is measured in decibels (dB). The shape of hearing loss refers to the degree and pattern across the frequency range. These three categories are illustrated on an audiogram after an evaluation by an audiologist.