Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Here’s something to think about: Lots of people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. You tend to lose certain frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more common. When sound is sensed, it moves these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for translation. These tiny hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently a result of the normal 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 use certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural issue or because of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. Your root condition, in many cases, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Requesting that people talk louder will help to some extent, but it won’t fix your hearing problems. Particular sounds, like consonant sounds, can become hard to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. This might cause someone with hearing loss to the mistaken conclusion 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 experiencing hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. For example, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. 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.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone talks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit in your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside noise you would normally hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.