Hearing loss problems aren’t always solved by cranking up the volume. Here’s something to think about: Many people are capable of hearing very soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss often occurs unevenly. You generally lose certain frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more prevalent. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for interpretation. When these fragile hairs in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why the normal 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 problems, and use certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It could be a result of too much earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Asking people to talk louder will help to some extent, but it won’t fix your hearing issues. Certain sounds, including consonant sounds, can become hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. This could cause somebody who has hearing loss to the mistaken idea that people around them are mumbling when in fact, they’re talking clearly.
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 most 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. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Because of damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.
This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person talks.
How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing Aids go in your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental sound you would normally hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to 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.