Types and causes of hearing loss

Understanding the types and causes of hearing loss will help you feel more comfortable and confident that you are making the right choice for you or your loved one.

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What you'll find on this page

  • Learn about the types and causes of hearing loss
  • Understand your degree of hearing loss
  • Discover potential solutions for each type of hearing loss

Every hearing loss story is different, and the causes vary widely from person to person. For example, your hearing loss may affect one ear or two, and it may stem from a problem in the inner, middle or outer ear, or from a combination of places.

However, there is one thing that remains constant for anyone impacted by hearing lossknowing what it is and what's causing it is key to finding the right solution.

Degrees of hearing loss

Understanding your degree of hearing loss is integral to identifying the right treatment. For example, hearing aids may be a good solution for someone with mild to moderate hearing loss, while hearing implants may be a good solution for someone with moderate to profound hearing loss.

Take a look at the illustrative audiogram below. You will see where sounds fall in loudness and frequency scales to help you understand what you may or may not be able to hear.

Make an appointment with a hearing health professional that is trained in advanced hearing treatment options, including hearing implants, to discuss possible solutions.

Degrees of hearing loss

Mild hearing loss
You may hear speech, but soft sounds are hard to hear, such as whispers or the consonants on the end of words like “shoes” or “fish.”

Moderate hearing loss
You may hear speech from another person speaking at a normal level, but will have difficulty understanding what is said. You might hear the vowels within a sentence, but will not hear the consonants. This makes sentence comprehension almost impossible.

Severe hearing loss
You may hear little to no speech of a person talking at a normal level and only some loud sounds. Very loud sounds, such as a car horn, wouldn’t likely be startling or scary in the same way it would to a person with normal hearing.

Profound hearing loss
You will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds and will likely feel the vibrations of only the loudest of sounds.

Understanding the audiogram

Your audiologist will map your type and degree of hearing loss on a chart called an audiogram. Learn what it is and how to read it.

Learn more

Cindy was able to hear again after waking up deaf in one of her earsthanks to the Cochlear™ Baha® Bone Conduction Implant System. Check out her story below.

“I have been able to really live my life normally and haven’t had to compromise in any way.”

- Cindy M. - Baha recipient

Find a Hearing Implant Specialist near you

There are no clinics close to you.

You can search for clinics in a different location, or contact Cochlear to understand what the next steps for you would be.


Please seek advice from your medical practitioner or health professional about treatments for hearing loss. They will be able to advise on a suitable solution for the hearing loss condition. All products should be used only as directed by your medical practitioner or health professional. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative.

Views expressed by Cochlear recipients and hearing health providers are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for cochlear technology and to understand the associated risks and benefits. Individual results may vary.

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