Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with certain sounds.
In particular, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common kind 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 detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with standard hearing?
To begin with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most important sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 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 high as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech features 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 typically easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems emerge with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or TV show plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may for once have a valid excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. As a result, people with hearing loss might find it easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will oftentimes be the key incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds entirely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically describe 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 generating high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music generally does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
In addition to 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 key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.
If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.
If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will meticulously test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?