Cranking up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss problems. Here’s something to consider: Lots of people can’t hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss often develops unevenly. You tend to lose specific frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more typical. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are damaged or killed, they do not regenerate. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused by the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, particular medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It might be a result of too much earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In most cases, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Requesting that people talk louder will help some, but it won’t solve your hearing problems. Individuals who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty making out certain sounds, including consonants in speech. This may cause somebody who has hearing loss to the mistaken idea that people around them are mumbling when in fact, they are talking clearly.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and many consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing aids have a component that fits into the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would normally hear in your environment. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to understand speech.