Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing most people are surprised to learn: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with specific sounds.

In particular, if you have trouble 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 in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression 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 begin with, sound can be defined both by its loudness (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear the lower frequencies at fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as high as 90 decibels with severe 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 incorporates a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.

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

Problems occur with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations or TV show plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may possibly for once have a valid excuse.

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

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will frequently be the key incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

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

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically cite 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 generating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for those with hearing loss.

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

How hearing aids can help

Along with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.

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

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

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you want.

If you suspect you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

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