percentage hearing loss…..


Does anyone else get fed up with hearing others say things such as;

 “I have a 50% hearing loss in my right ear and a 30% in my left”

“My brother has a 70% hearing loss ….”

“What percentage hearing loss is yours?”

Sometimes I just smile and nod, but just lately I’ve been quizing them, asking them who told them they had a percentage loss, more often than not they say the audiologist.  Any audiologist I’ve ever spoken on this subject says that percentage loss is a nonsense and they would never give an assessment in those terms.

So why are there so many out there who claim a percentage loss? Not only that they proclaim it like some sort of acheivement?  My percentage loss is better/worse than your percentage loss”

Word and sentence understanding are measure in percentages, but not everyone will have those tests. Perhaps this is what they are talking about? Perhaps they are mistaking a 50dB reading for 50%, maybe??

I know that  insurance claims are measured in percentages so I did an online assessment. Depending on which algorithms are used I have between a 95 and 100% hearing disability. Yeah, beat that mate. Yet I know that there are many who have worse hearing than I do. It’s a nonsense when you take it out of context.

Hearing loss isn’t a competition to be measured off in numbers. We know that two people with a similar audiogram will respond differently to that loss. Lifestyles, environment, adaptability all play a part.

So, enough with the percentages, comparing, wanting to know just how deaf I am.  If the conversation is about hearing loss then fine, it’s valid. As are the questions people ask me on here, but as an opener, by a stranger then no. It’s not OK.


12 responses »

  1. Yes, I get fed up very much, thank you. Seems to me it’s even worse among the cyborg population.

    I guess the desire to count and then to compare oneself to others, to rank and be ranked is fundamental for many people. After all, even if the only thing you do is fail you can at least say you are better at that than someone else. Beats me.

      • On second thought: I think it’s actually more acceptable, as the context is different than when talking about hearing loss (it’s — usually — about individual learning and progression). Plus people usually add of what they hear such and such a percentage (words, sentences, in noise etc.), that’s proper style in statistics. As opposed to claims like “I hear 30%!” “Of what?” “Well, uh, everything, I guess”.
        However, as a starter for conversation, I still find it disappropriate. I still think that too much comparing oneself to others mostly tends to result in unhappiness. And I hate the scorn (or the envy) that often comes along with it.

        • I have no time for the competitiveness of it. I like the informative side especially for those who are considering getting a CI and want to quantify the improvement. I really dislike the one upmanship.

  2. You are a hoot. You are right, of course.

    Although when taking care of my dad in Long-Term Care, I realized , from his hearing aid shop, that his hearing loss was much more profound than we thought.

    Then he lost BOTH his hearing aids. Oh My!!!! Asking him about pain wasn’t funny at the time.

    “Are you in pain?” Pausing for a response. “Does it hurt?”

    I clearly enunciated each consonant and he kept asking me, “Pardon?”, turning his worst ear towards me. I wondered at this!

    “Do you want a pill for pain?”

    “A pie for pay?”

    My hubby has a %age loss. He has always had it. It means that he virtually failed government French class, back in the day.

    We have fun, as he talks about what he thought I said, as opposed to what I actually said. You just have to laugh.

    • Turning the worst ear, this demonstrates that hearing loss is more than numbers. His brain preferred to hear with that ear, the dominant ear. If you hurt your dominant hand you still try and do things with it.

      About your husband’s “percentage loss”, if you don’t mind me asking, but who exactly gave him this description of a hearing loss? As I was saying it isn’t used by audiologists as a descriptor of hearing loss. They use; mild. moderate, severe, profound and the type, ie conductive, sensory, combined……and so on.

      I know the type of conversation you talk about, I have them all the time.

    • We cleaned the cat with some stuff from the vet, she’s still a little skunky but ok. Except that we havent seen her all day. Its gone 9pm and she isnt home, so we are worried.

  3. I know exactly what you mean. Until I had my recent speech recognition tests I didn’t even have percentages, even though I had been asked that very question before, and even my tests that percentage is only measured against speech – what about other sounds? How important is it anyway? Its not a game to be played off one another. Does it help people’s understanding of how much we can hear? Even then there are variables, some people are easier to hear than others depending on their voice and speech pattern.

    Another question I get is ‘what can’t you hear?’ – well, if I’ve never been able to hear them how would I know I’m missing them? (apart from the obvious things like birds singing, crickets rubbing their legs – do they REALLY make a sound?!)

  4. my guess is the percentage is people thinking 50dB means 50% and 100dB means 100% and in a way it makes sense as they can’t amplify much beyond 100-110 without causing pain. Mathematically it’s very wrong since dB measure power and 50dB isn’t half of 100…

    The people who talk about their percent loss are probably those who compare themselves with others. So it only takes one talking about his percent for all the others to talk about their percent.

    The discrimination tests make perfect sense as a percent since it’s clarified as x% of words or sentences. Though still vague because sometimes they give partial credit (phonemes) and some people say you should guess and some say you shouldn’t.

  5. I never measured my loss in percent but always DB HL numbers. My best DB number is 70db loss at 250Hz but it slopes down to over 120db loss(cochlear dead region) above 1000Hz. If anyone asks how bad my loss is, I say youd have to shout 2″ from my ear for me to hear a sound. With HAs, I still don’t hear close to normal. I am getting stem cells in the near future for a 20-40db improvement.

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