Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds just fine, and have difficulty only with certain sounds.

Specifically, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common form of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be detected at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?

To begin with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).

With standard hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech comprises a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are typically easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems appear with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants express most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following discussions or TV show plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may for once have a legitimate excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, those with hearing loss might find it easier to hear the male voice.

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will often be the key incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds completely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically describe their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of generating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music in general does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

Together with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s vital to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

If you believe you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will meticulously test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?