Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Here’s something to think about: Lots of people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others without any problem.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. It might be because of excessive buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your root condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the fragile hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which send chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. These tiny hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the natural aging process is often the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. 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.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

Requesting that people talk louder will help some, but it won’t fix your hearing problems. Particular sounds, including consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for people who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. This could lead someone with hearing loss to the incorrect conclusion that people around them are mumbling when in fact, they are talking clearly.

When somebody is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants typically makes them difficult to distinguish. 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. Conversely, consonants such as “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.

This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. It won’t help much when someone talks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids go inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would normally hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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