Here’s something most people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have trouble only with specific sounds.
Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common type of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can probably hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be heard at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?
To begin with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Inside of 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 fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech involves a mix of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are typically easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants express most 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 may for once have a legitimate defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, people with hearing loss might find it much easier to hear the male voice.
Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will oftentimes be the primary incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds completely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically talk about 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 those with hearing loss.
Music on the whole 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
Together with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The secret to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s essential to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.
If you suspect you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?