Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking the volume up. Here’s something to consider: Many people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others without any problem.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It may be a result of too much buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more prevalent. When sound is perceived, it moves these hairs which send chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for translation. When these tiny hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they do not regenerate. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is often a result of the normal process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health issues, and use certain medications.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Asking people to speak up when they talk to you will help some, but it won’t solve your hearing problems. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for people who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. Although people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may think that people are mumbling.
When someone is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them hard to distinguish. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. For example, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. But consonants like “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Because of damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing aids have a component that goes in the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you can’t hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids can also block out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.