Like smell, our hearing is perhaps one of the senses we’re most likely to take for granted. Yet around one in eight people in the US currently live with some degree of hearing loss. When it fades, it can do so in different ways and at different paces, which sometimes makes it difficult to notice and treat accordingly.

A normallevel of hearing is thought of as no more than 25 decibels of hearing loss. In practical terms this means you’d be able to hear sounds such as people breathing and mosquitoes buzzing.But what’s happening when those sounds are no longer audible?

If you’re in any doubt, it’s best to speak to a local hearing care professional. In the meantime, you can read a basic guide to the levels of hearing loss below.

Mild hearing loss

Mild hearing loss can often go unnoticed for some time as people can still hear much of what they heard before, even if they have to get a little closer to a sound’s source or increase its volume.

Examples of sounds you may struggle to pick up if suffering from mild hearing loss include whispering and the humming of refrigerators. Keeping up with conversations in noisy surroundings like restaurants can also become more challenging.

Moderate to severe hearing loss

As the severity of hearing loss increases, soft sounds such as rain falling or people typing in a quiet office may become inaudible.In conversations, people with moderate hearing loss sometimes report that they can hear people talking but can’t understand them.

As hearing loss worsens further, you may begin to struggle with hearing those around you talk at normal volume, which could leave you feeling isolated. You may also need the TV volume turned up to a level that bothers others, while missingthe rings of doorbells and phones altogether.

People suffering from severe hearing loss usually begin to rely on lip reading in general conversation, even when wearing hearing aids.

Profound hearing loss

If you reach a level of profound hearing loss, you’re likely to spend much of your day in silence. Extreme sounds such as thunder and fireworks may be all you pick up, leaving things like fire alarms, traffic and airplanes out of earshot.

It may be necessary to learn sign language at this point to help with everydaycommunication.

Getting help

Thankfully there are ways to improve your hearing even if that doesn’t mean making a full recovery. Hearing aids are available for mild and severe loss, while cochlear implants can prove effective for severe and profound cases.

In any case, if you recognise any of the situations described above, make sure to contact a medical professional as early as possible to find out what can be done.