Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking up the volume. Think about this: Lots of people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently occurs unevenly. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others without any problem.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It could be a congenital structural issue or because of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most cases, hearing specialists can treat the underlying condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and send out chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. When these fragile hairs in your inner ear are injured or killed, they do not ever re-grow. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is usually caused by the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss problems. Individuals who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have a difficult time understanding certain sounds, like consonants in speech. Even though people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition might think that people are mumbling.

When someone is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants typically makes them hard to make out. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.

This is why just 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 Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside noise you would typically hear. Also, the frequencies you can’t hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.

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