Here’s something many people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with specific sounds.
In particular, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common kind of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can most likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?
To start with, sound can be defined both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a fairly low volume of between 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech includes a combination of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are usually easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems come about with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants express the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations or TV show plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may for once have a valid excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. For this reason, those with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the primary 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 entirely.
Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically reveal 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 making high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music generally 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
In combination with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s essential to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you desire.
If you think you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?