Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by cranking the volume up. Consider this: Lots of people are able to hear really soft sounds, but can’t hear conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss often develops unevenly. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others without any problem.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. Your underlying condition, in many cases, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the little hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more common. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. These little hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the natural aging process is often 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 problems, and use certain medications.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
Requesting that people talk louder will help some, but it won’t fix your hearing problems. Certain sounds, such as consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for individuals who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. Although people around them are speaking clearly, someone with this condition may believe that people are mumbling.
When someone is dealing with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them difficult to distinguish. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. It won’t help much when someone talks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids have a component that goes in the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.