Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing many people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with certain sounds.

Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common type of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can probably hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be heard at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?

To start with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).

With standard hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Inside of that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a fairly low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear the lower frequencies at relatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech entails a mix of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are usually easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems develop with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants present the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or movie plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may for once have a legitimate defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. For this reason, people with hearing loss may find it much easier to hear the male voice.

Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will oftentimes be the leading motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds entirely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically point out their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for those with hearing loss.

Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.

How hearing aids can help

In addition to the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s essential to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a skilled professional.

If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you desire.

If you suspect you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

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