Turning up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss problems. Consider this: Lots of people can’t understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. You often lose particular frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound garbled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. In many cases, hearing specialists can treat the underlying condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by problems with the tiny hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. These little hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why the common aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health issues, and use certain medications.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
Asking people to speak up when they talk to you will help some, but it won’t solve your hearing issues. People who have sensorineural hearing loss have a difficult time making out specific sounds, including consonants in speech. Even though people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may believe that people are mumbling.
When someone is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them difficult 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 instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person talks.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background sound to make it easier to make out speech.