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If you’ve ever been confused about the difference between the varying types of hearing loss, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to understand the ways in which doctors and health organizations categorize and treat differing levels of hearing loss and deafness because there is some overlap in how they are defined and can be a little different depending on who you ask. Below are a few explanations that might help you better understand the differences between some of these terms.

Hearing loss can be defined as a “diminished ability to hear sounds like other people do (Medical News Today).” Healthy hearing is scientifically categorized by the World Health Organization as having a hearing threshold of 25 decibels (dB) in both ears.

Deafness is defined by the World Health Organization as those with “profound hearing loss and implies little to no hearing at all.”

In Oklahoma, the “Legal Interpreter for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Act” states that a “deaf person or hard-of-hearing person means an individual whose sense of hearing is nonfunctional for the ordinary purposes of life.”

In addition to these definitions, both hearing loss and deafness can be categorized as mild, moderate, severe, and profound. To better understand this concept, we invite you to check out our hearing loss simulator on YouTube.

Given all the different definitions on hearing loss, what does HEI do in relation to them? Great question! Our research focuses primarily on treatments that will help those who suffer from acquired hearing loss, which includes the following:

    • sensorineural hearing loss (damage to the hair cells in the cochlea), and
  • ototoxic medications (medicines harmful to the ear, such as chemotherapy drugs).

Much of Dr. Hough’s legacy includes performing ear surgeries, assisting in the development of technology for the cochlear implant, and practicing medicine. And while our CEO, Dr. Richard Kopke, still sees patients and performs surgeries, today Hough Ear Institute is focused on research and innovation. We hope and believe that we will see the results of this research restore and protect hearing for people around the world in a cost-effective way.

For further reading on this topic, please see the following resources:

World Health Organization – Deafness & Hearing Loss

Medical News Today – Deafness & Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments