Audiology & Hearing Care of SWFL - Bonita Springs, FL

Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by turning up the volume. Think about this: Many people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. You generally lose specific frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound muffled.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be because of too much buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In most cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. These tiny hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is usually a result of the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and illnesses can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can become difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. This might lead someone who has hearing loss to the mistaken idea that people around them are mumbling when actually, they are speaking clearly.

The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants such as “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.

This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. It won’t help much when someone talks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing Aids go inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside sound you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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