Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Here’s something to consider: Many people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others without any problem.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It might be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by problems with the tiny hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is perceived, it vibrates these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for translation. These delicate hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently caused by the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You might hear a little better if people speak louder to you, but it isn’t going to comprehensively manage your hearing loss problems. Individuals who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble understanding specific sounds, like consonants in speech. Even though people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition might believe that people are mumbling.
The pitch of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone experiencing hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured 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 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 due to the damage to their inner ears.
This is why simply 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 do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids go in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside sound 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 block out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.