Turning up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss issues. Here’s something to think about: Lots of people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently occurs unevenly. You generally lose specific frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make speech sound muffled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical issue in the ear. It might be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. In many cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the little hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. These fragile hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the natural aging process is frequently 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.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You may hear a bit better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to completely manage your hearing loss issues. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have a difficult time hearing certain sounds, including consonants in speech. Although people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may think that people are mumbling.
When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them difficult to make out. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and many consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. 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 difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
Because of this, simply talking 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 talks.
How do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you’re unable to 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 hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.