Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have trouble only with specific sounds.
In particular, 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 in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?
To begin with, sound can be defined both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).
With standard hearing, you’d have the ability 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 relatively low volume of around 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably 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 profound hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech incorporates a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are normally easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following discussions 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 amplitude, or loudness. Because of this, those with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.
Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the key incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds entirely.
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 generating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.
How hearing aids can help
In addition to 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 key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s important 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 results you want.
If you believe 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 start enjoying your favorite sounds again?