Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by cranking the volume up. Consider this: Many people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. Your root condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by issues with the little hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is perceived, it vibrates these hairs which send chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for translation. These tiny hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused by 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 conditions, and take certain medications.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
Asking people to speak up when they talk to you will help to some degree, but it won’t solve your hearing issues. Individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty making out specific sounds, including consonants in speech. Although people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition might believe that people are mumbling.
When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants typically makes them hard to distinguish. 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. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone talks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing aids have a component that fits into the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would normally hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are amplified and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.