Hearing Loss

Here’s something many people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with certain sounds.

Specifically, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common form of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be perceived at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with standard hearing?

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

With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Inside of that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound 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 entails a mix of both low and high frequency sounds.

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

Problems result with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants convey the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or movie plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a valid defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, people with hearing loss might find it easier to hear the male voice.

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will frequently be the key motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

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

In fact, we’ve had patients specifically point out their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once 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 challenging to hear for those with hearing loss.

Music in general does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

Along with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.

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

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

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

If you think you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will meticulously test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?