Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by cranking the volume up. Think about this: Many people can’t hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. Certain frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more common. When sound is perceived, it moves these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for interpretation. These tiny hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why the normal aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural issue or due to an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In many cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Asking people to speak up when they talk to you will help to some extent, but it won’t fix your hearing issues. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty hearing certain sounds, like consonants in speech. This might cause someone who has hearing loss to the mistaken idea that those around them are mumbling when actually, they’re talking clearly.
When someone is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants typically makes them difficult to distinguish. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For example, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. It’s not going to help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit in your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the environmental noise you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting 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 understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.