Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss problems. Think about this: Many people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. You tend to lose certain frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make voices sound garbled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be a result of too much earwax buildup or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. Your root condition, in many cases, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.
- Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. When sound is sensed, it moves these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for translation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, they don’t regenerate. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently a result of the normal process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, particular medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
You might hear a bit better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. Specific sounds, including consonant sounds, can be hard to hear for individuals who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. Although people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition might think that people are mumbling.
When someone is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants typically makes them hard to make out. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For example, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. 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 difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
Because of this, simply speaking louder is not always helpful. 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 have a component that fits into the ear, so sounds reach 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. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background sound to make it easier to understand speech.