Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by turning the volume up. Here’s something to think about: Lots of people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical problem in the ear. It may be because of excessive buildup of earwax or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can manage the root 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 issues with the fragile hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs move when they sense sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for interpretation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they do not regenerate. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently a result of the natural process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health issues, and take certain medications.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
You may hear a little better if people talk louder to you, but it isn’t going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. Individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty making out specific sounds, like consonants in speech. This could cause somebody who has hearing loss to the incorrect idea that those around them are mumbling when in fact, they’re speaking clearly.
The pitch of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most 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. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit in your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the environmental noise you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.