For many people, hearing loss is a difficult, and often confusing topic. Even within the deaf community, there can be a lot of confusion about the different types of hearing loss and their severity. Two commonly misunderstood terms are severely deaf and profoundly deaf. While it may seem like these terms are interchangeable, there are actually significant differences between the two.
Severely deaf individuals have some hearing abilities but may need amplification devices to hear and may struggle to understand speech without visual cues. They can still hear some sounds and noises, making it easier for them to interact with people who do not use sign language. In contrast, profoundly deaf people cannot hear anything and rely solely on sign language or written communication. It can be helpful to think of deafness as a spectrum, with levels of severity ranging from mild to profound.
Understanding the differences between different levels of hearing loss can help us better support and communicate with members of the deaf community. It’s important to remember that individuals who are severely or profoundly deaf should not be seen as a problem to be solved but rather as valued members of society with their own unique experiences and perspectives.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss refers to the partial or complete inability to hear sounds in one or both ears. There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include wax buildup, ear infections, and abnormal growths in the ear canal.
Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the nerves that transmit sound to the brain. This type of hearing loss is often caused by exposure to loud noises, aging, and certain diseases or medications.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that there is a problem with both the outer or middle ear and the inner ear or nerves.
Severity of Hearing Loss
- Mild hearing loss: The individual can hear sounds at 25-40 dB
- Moderate hearing loss: The individual can hear sounds at 40-70 dB
- Severe hearing loss: The individual can hear sounds at 70-95 dB
- Profound hearing loss: The individual can hear sounds at 95 dB or more
Severely Deaf vs. Profoundly Deaf
Severe hearing loss and profound hearing loss are two of the most common levels of hearing loss. Severe hearing loss refers to an individual having a hearing threshold between 71-90 dB, while profound hearing loss indicates a hearing threshold of 90 dB or greater.
Individuals with severe hearing loss have some residual hearing and may benefit from hearing aids or cochlear implants. These devices help to amplify sound and transmit it to the auditory nerve. With proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals with severe hearing loss can often communicate effectively with others and lead relatively normal lives.
In contrast, individuals with profound hearing loss have little to no hearing ability and may rely on sign language, lip-reading, or other forms of communication to interact with others. Cochlear implants have been an effective solution for some individuals with profound hearing loss, but they are not suitable for everyone.
Regardless of the severity of the hearing loss, early intervention and treatment can help to minimize the impact on an individual’s quality of life.
|Hearing Loss Level
|Hearing Threshold (dB)
|Mild Hearing Loss
|Moderate Hearing Loss
|Severe Hearing Loss
|Profound Hearing Loss
|95 dB or greater
Understanding the various types and levels of hearing loss is essential for providing appropriate interventions and support to individuals with hearing loss.
Causes of Severe and Profound Deafness
Deafness can be a result of various factors, including genetics, infections, and injuries. Severe and profound deafness are two types of hearing loss that individuals may experience. Understanding the causes of these types of deafness can help us take preventive measures and develop appropriate interventions.
Severe deafness refers to hearing loss ranging from 71 decibels (dB) to 90 dB, while profound deafness indicates a loss of over 90 dB. Usually, individuals with severe deafness may hear loud noises, similar to vacuum cleaners or drilling sounds. Conversely, people with profound deafness may only hear very loud noises, such as fireworks.
- Genetic factors: Inherited genes can cause severe deafness in some individuals. Mutations in genes responsible for hearing impairment can affect hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.
- Perinatal factors: Infants can develop hearing loss if they are born prematurely or if they have low birth weight. Exposure to infections during pregnancy, such as rubella, may also lead to hearing loss.
- Acquired causes: Head injury, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, ear infections, and autoimmune diseases can result in severe or profound deafness.
Infections are one of the most prevalent causes of severe deafness. Conditions such as meningitis, measles, and mumps are known to cause deafness in children. These infections can lead to inflammation in the inner ear, resulting in temporary or permanent hearing loss.
|Chronic Ear Infection
|Recurrent ear infections can damage the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.
|Regular exposure to loud noise can cause hair cells in the inner ear to die off and lead to hearing loss over time.
|Excessive earwax can block sound waves from reaching the inner ear and cause temporary hearing loss.
Early diagnosis and intervention for hearing loss are crucial. Medical professionals can identify the severity and type of hearing loss through various hearing tests and examinations. Treatment options include hearing aids, cochlear implants, and sign language. In some cases, medicine or surgery can also improve hearing.
Medical Conditions Associated with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a complex condition caused by various factors. In some cases, it can be a result of injuries or trauma, while in other cases, it is a temporary condition caused by certain medical conditions or medications. Indeed, hearing loss is not just a condition on its own, but a symptom of other underlying health issues.
Here are some of the medical conditions associated with hearing loss:
Causes of Hearing Loss
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Ototoxic drugs
- Infections (such as otitis media, meningitis, and mumps)
Genetics play a crucial role in hearing loss, and some types of hearing loss are caused by inherited genetic mutations. About 50% of babies with hearing loss are born with genetic hearing loss, and this type of loss can be either moderate, severe, or profound.
The genetic causes of hearing loss are very diverse, and can affect different parts of the hearing system, including the cochlea, the middle ear, and the auditory nerve. Some of the most common genetic causes of hearing loss include:
- Connexin 26 gene mutations
- Pendred syndrome
- Usher syndrome
Hearing loss can also be a result of traumatic injuries, including head injuries, skull fractures, and other accidents that cause damage to the ear. Depending on the severity of the damage, hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.
|Types of Trauma
|Severity of Hearing Loss
|Mild head injury
|Temporary hearing loss
|Moderate to severe hearing loss
|Acoustic trauma (exposure to loud sounds)
|Permanent hearing loss
Social isolation, communication difficulties, and other psychological effects are just some of the impacts of hearing loss. It is important to gain an understanding of the underlying cause of hearing loss to provide proper treatment and support to those who suffer from it.
Genetic Factors in Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a complex condition, and there are various factors that can contribute to it. One of the primary factors that can lead to hearing loss is genetics. There are several genes responsible for hearing function, and any mutations or changes in these genes can result in hearing loss. Here, we will shed light on genetic factors that can cause hearing loss and how severe and profound deafness differ concerning genetic causes.
- There are over 400 genes known to be associated with hearing loss. The mutations in these genes can result in either a genetic predisposition to hearing loss or can lead to hearing loss themselves.
- Some genes cause hearing loss when they are the only cause, while others cause hearing loss when paired with environmental factors such as noise exposure or medications.
- Severe deafness can be caused by several single-gene mutations, including those in the GJB2, SLC26A4, and CDH23 genes.
Severe and profound deafness can be genetically linked, and there is often a family history of hearing loss in these cases. Some genes responsible for deafness can be inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means that both parents carry the mutated gene but do not have hearing loss. When two carriers have children, there is a 25% chance that the child will inherit both mutated genes and, therefore, have severe or profound deafness.
On the other hand, some genetic factors contribute to one ear’s hearing loss, and this type of hearing loss is known as unilateral or single-sided deafness. The mutations in the COCH, MYO7A, and SLITRK6 genes cause single-sided deafness, and this type of deafness affects only one ear, making it different from severe and profound deafness.
|Associated Types of Hearing Loss
In conclusion, genetic factors can play a crucial role in determining the type and severity of hearing loss. Researchers have identified numerous genes that can cause hearing loss, and understanding these genes’ functions is essential in developing effective treatments for hearing loss.
Management and Treatment of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a common problem that affects people of all ages. There are different types and levels of hearing loss, and two of the most severe types are severely deaf and profoundly deaf. For people with these conditions, communication with the outside world can be a struggle, but with proper management and treatment, it is possible to minimize the impact of hearing loss on their daily lives.
The Difference Between Severely Deaf and Profoundly Deaf
- Severely deaf individuals have moderate to severe hearing loss, and they may rely on hearing aids or cochlear implants to understand speech.
- Profundly deaf individuals have profound hearing loss, and they may rely on sign language or lipreading to communicate.
Both severely deaf and profoundly deaf individuals face challenges in communication, but the degree of their hearing loss determines the management and treatment options available to them.
Hearing Loss Management
Management of hearing loss starts with identifying the cause and severity of the hearing loss. If the cause is something that can be treated medically or surgically, such as ear infections or traumatic injuries, then it should be addressed first.
Hearing aids and cochlear implants are the most common management options for severely deaf individuals depending on their degree of hearing loss. Cochlear implants are suitable for individuals with severe hearing loss, while hearing aids are recommended for those with moderate hearing loss. Hearing aids and cochlear implants work by amplifying sounds and transmitting them to the inner ear, where they stimulate the auditory nerve.
For individuals who are profoundly deaf or have limited benefit from hearing aids and cochlear implants, sign language can be an effective communication method. Learning sign language is like learning a new language, and it requires time, patience, and practice.
Treatment of Hearing Loss
Preventing hearing loss is the best treatment for any type of hearing loss. Avoiding loud noises and protecting the ears from noise exposure are the most effective ways of preventing noise-induced hearing loss.
If hearing loss is already present, early intervention is essential. Interventional strategies may prevent or at least minimize further hearing loss and prevent further adverse effects, such as tinnitus or vertigo.
The use of hearing aids and cochlear implants can provide significant benefits for individuals with hearing loss. In some cases, middle ear implants that stimulate the ear drum directly may be appropriate.
Hearing loss management and treatment require an individualized approach that takes various factors into consideration, such as the age of the person, the cause and type of hearing loss, and the severity of the hearing loss. With the right management and treatment, individuals with hearing loss, whether severely deaf or profoundly deaf, can lead productive and fulfilling lives.
|Amplify sounds and transmit them to the inner ear
|Suitable for severe to profound hearing loss, transmit sound directly to the auditory nerve
|Middle Ear Implants
|Stimulate the ear drum directly
Management and treatment options may vary depending on the needs of the individual. Consulting with a hearing healthcare professional is recommended for anyone with hearing loss.
Assistive Devices for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Assistive devices are devices that help individuals with hearing loss communicate and stay connected with the world around them. These devices work by either amplifying sounds or converting sounds into visual or tactile cues. Here are some of the most common assistive devices for the deaf and hard of hearing:
- Hearing aids: Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are worn inside or behind the ear. They amplify sound and improve the wearer’s ability to hear and understand speech.
- Cochlear implants: Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that are surgically implanted in the ear and stimulate the auditory nerve to provide sound for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
- Assistive listening devices: Assistive listening devices (ALDs) amplify sound and reduce background noise. They include devices like personal FM systems, TV amplifiers, and loop systems.
Assistive devices can also include visual and tactile cues for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Here are some examples:
- American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters: ASL interpreters are trained professionals who translate spoken language into sign language for the deaf or hard of hearing.
- Captioning: Captioning provides text for spoken words, making it possible for people with hearing loss to read what is being said on television, movies, or live events.
- Vibrating alarms: Vibrating alarms provide a tactile cue, such as a vibration or flashing light, to wake up individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and cannot hear an audible alarm.
It’s important to note that not all assistive devices work for everyone, and individuals with hearing loss should consult with an audiologist or hearing healthcare professional to determine which device is best for them.
|Improve hearing and speech understanding, can be adjusted for different environments, improve quality of life.
|Expensive, can be uncomfortable, need regular maintenance, may not work for all types of hearing loss.
|Can provide sound for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss, improve speech understanding, increase quality of life.
|Expensive, requires surgery, not all individuals are candidates, need regular maintenance.
|Reduce background noise, improve speech understanding, can be used in different environments.
|May not be effective for all types of hearing loss, can be expensive, require additional equipment.
|American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters
|Provide complete access to spoken language for deaf individuals, can be used in many settings.
|Not everyone knows ASL, not all settings have ASL interpreters available, can be expensive.
|Provides complete access to spoken language for deaf individuals, can be used in many settings, includes real-time and post-production options.
|May not be available for all events or in all settings, can be expensive.
|Provide a tactile cue to wake up individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, can be used in many settings.
|May not be effective for all individuals, can be uncomfortable, may not wake up individuals in deep sleep.
Overall, assistive devices can significantly improve the communication and quality of life for individuals with hearing loss. It’s important to work with a hearing healthcare professional to determine which device is best for each individual’s specific needs and preferences.
Communication Strategies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing can be a challenge if you’re not familiar with their condition. Here are some communication strategies that can assist you in communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing:
- Face the person and maintain eye contact while speaking.
- Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Avoid speaking too fast or too slow.
- Speak in a well-lit area so the person can read your lips if necessary.
It is crucial to avoid shouting or over-exaggerating your mouth movements when speaking, as that can make it challenging for the individual to read your lips or understand what you’re saying. Patience and understanding are key when communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing.
If the individual you’re communicating with knows sign language, and you do not, it can be useful to communicate in writing or using a mobile device. Mobile devices have various applications that enable video calls to provide access to sign language interpreting services.
Another alternate form of communication is using an interpreter trained in sign language. Individuals in professions such as medicine, education, and the legal system are most likely to use interpreters. In such scenarios, the deaf and hard of hearing person will most likely bring their interpreter. If you don’t have access to an interpreter, it is recommended that you contact a local interpreting agency or the National Association of the Deaf to find a qualified interpreter.
|Face to Face Conversation
|Personal connection and easier interpretation.
|Requires excellent lip-reading skills and essential lighting.
|Accurate and straightforward.
|Time-consuming and lacks clarity of sound.
|Accessible and fast.
|Requires learned skills and locating or paying an interpreter.
The most important aspect of communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing is to maintain a positive and respectful attitude. Always ask the person how they would like to communicate, and do not make assumptions based on their disability. With patience, appropriate resources, and willingness to learn, communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing can be accomplished with ease.
What is the difference between severely deaf and profoundly deaf?
1. What does it mean to be severely deaf?
Being severely deaf means having a significant hearing loss, but not complete hearing loss. People who are severely deaf may still be able to hear some sounds with the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
2. What does it mean to be profoundly deaf?
Being profoundly deaf means having a complete hearing loss. People who are profoundly deaf cannot hear any sounds without the use of sign language or other visual means of communication.
3. Can people who are severely deaf still communicate verbally?
Yes, many people who are severely deaf are still able to communicate verbally with the help of hearing aids or cochlear implants. However, they may require some additional support, such as lip-reading or sign language.
4. Can people who are profoundly deaf still communicate verbally?
No, people who are profoundly deaf cannot communicate verbally as they are unable to hear any sounds. They rely on visual means of communication such as sign language, written language, or lip-reading.
5. What are some of the challenges faced by people who are severely deaf or profoundly deaf?
Both groups can face challenges in communication, education, and employment. However, those who are profoundly deaf may face more significant challenges as they require visual communication methods to interact with others.
Thanks for reading about the difference between severely deaf and profoundly deaf. It’s important to understand that while both groups have hearing loss, the severity of the loss can have a significant impact on communication and daily life. If you know someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, take the time to learn about their communication preferences and support them in any way you can. Visit again soon for more helpful articles!