Here’s one thing 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 difficulty only with select sounds.
Specifically, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common type of hearing loss, called high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating 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 start with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (calculated 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 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 might be able to hear the lower frequencies at comparatively 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 severe 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 combination 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 come about with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants express most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble 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 may possibly for once have a legitimate defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. For this reason, those 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 frequently be the prime motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you may 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 creating high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music generally does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
In combination with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of streaming water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specific frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.
If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.
If you think you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will meticulously 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?