Turning up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss problems. Here’s something to consider: Lots of people are capable of hearing very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they detect sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits them 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 natural process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health conditions, and take certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss happens when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It might be a result of too much buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In many circumstances, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
You may hear a little better if people speak louder to you, but it isn’t going to completely deal with your hearing loss problems. People who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty hearing certain sounds, including consonants in speech. This may cause somebody with hearing loss to the mistaken idea that people around them are mumbling when in fact, they are speaking clearly.
When somebody is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them difficult to make out. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person talking, 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. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.
This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person talks.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids come with a component that goes in the ear, so sounds reach your auditory system without the interference you would normally 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. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also block out background sound to make it easier to understand speech.