Cranking up the volume doesn’t always solve hearing loss problems. Here’s something to consider: Lots of people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. You often lose certain frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound muffled.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by problems with the delicate hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs move when they detect sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. These fragile hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is often a result of the normal process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It might be a congenital structural problem or because of an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. 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.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Requesting that people speak up when they talk to you will help to some degree, but it won’t solve your hearing problems. Certain sounds, including consonant sounds, can become hard to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. Even though people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition might believe that people are mumbling.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for someone experiencing hearing loss. 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 speaking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants like “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 people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
Because of this, simply speaking louder is not always helpful. 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 do 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. 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 cancel out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.