Cranking up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss issues. Here’s something to think about: Many people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the little hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why the common aging process is often the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. Your underlying condition, in many cases, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to completely manage your hearing loss problems. People who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty hearing specific sounds, including consonants in speech. This may lead someone with hearing loss to the incorrect conclusion that people around them are mumbling when in fact, they are speaking clearly.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and many consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. 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. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person speaks.
How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing Aids fit in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background sound to make it easier to make out speech.