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Hearing Loss

Here’s something most people are surprised to learn: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with certain sounds.

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

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

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

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

With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are inside 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 may be able to hear the lower frequencies at relatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as high 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 features a mix of both low and high frequency sounds.

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

Problems arise with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants present the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations 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 might for once have a valid defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, 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 motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

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

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically point out 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 creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music on the whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.

How hearing aids can help

Together with the above, you may have difficulty 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 specific frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s essential to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a skilled professional.

If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you want.

If you believe you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced 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 begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?