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Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing many 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.

Specifically, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common type 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, creating the perception 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 defined both by its loudness (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).

With standard hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most worthwhile sounds are within 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 comparatively 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, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech contains a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.

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

Problems result with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following discussions or movie 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 viable defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. For this reason, those with hearing loss might find it much easier to hear the male voice.

Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will oftentimes be the principal motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds entirely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically reveal 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 challenging to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music in general 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 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 specified frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s important to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a qualified 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 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 difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?