Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking up the volume. Here’s something to consider: Many people are able to hear really soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others without any problem.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss happens when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be because of too much buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can manage the underlying condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the delicate hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is perceived, it vibrates these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. These little hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the ordinary aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You may hear a little better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively deal with your hearing loss challenges. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have a difficult time hearing certain sounds, including consonants in speech. This could cause somebody who has hearing loss to the incorrect conclusion that those around them are mumbling when actually, they’re talking clearly.

When someone is coping 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 harder for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for example, 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.

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 speaks.

How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing aids come with a component that goes in the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you can’t hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.

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