Hearing Loss

Here’s something most people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds just fine, and have a hard time only with select sounds.

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

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability 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 healthy hearing?

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

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

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might 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 high as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).

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

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech involves a combination of both low and high frequency sounds.

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

Problems result with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants transmit the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations or TV show 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 might for once have a valid excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, people with hearing loss might 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 principal incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The songs of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds completely.

In fact, we’ve had patients specifically reveal their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds 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 people with hearing loss.

Music in general does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as certain 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 running water.

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

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

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

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

Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?

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