Configuration of Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss: Type of Hearing Loss | Degree of Hearing Loss | Configuration of Hearing Loss 

Audiology Information Series
More information on this topic can be found in our Audiology Information Series [PDF].

The configuration, or shape, of the hearing loss refers to the degree and pattern of hearing loss across frequencies (tones), as illustrated in a graph called an audiogram. For example, a hearing loss that only affects the high tones would be described as a high-frequency loss. Its configuration would show good hearing in the low tones and poor hearing in the high tones.

On the other hand, if only the low frequencies are affected, the configuration would show poorer hearing for low tones and better hearing for high tones. Some hearing loss configurations are flat, indicating the same amount of hearing loss for low and high tones.

Other descriptors associated with hearing loss are:

Bilateral versus unilateral. Bilateral means hearing loss in both ears. Unilateral means hearing loss in one ear.

Symmetrical versus asymmetrical.
Symmetrical means the degree and configuration of hearing loss are the same in each ear. Asymmetrical means degree and configuration of hearing loss are different in each ear.

Progressive versus sudden hearing loss. Progressive means that hearing loss becomes worse over time. Sudden means hearing loss that happens quickly. Such a hearing loss requires immediate medical attention to determine its cause and treatment.

Fluctuating versus stable hearing loss.
Fluctuating means hearing loss that changes over time—sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse.

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