Here’s something many people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with certain sounds.
Specifically, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common type of hearing loss, called high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can probably 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 normal hearing?
To begin with, sound can be defined both by its intensity (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, 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 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 raising the volume (by as high 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 features a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are in most cases easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems occur with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants transmit most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or TV show plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may for once have a viable defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. Because of this, those with hearing loss might find it easier to hear the male voice.
Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will oftentimes be the principal motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds entirely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically mention 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 specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.
How hearing aids can help
Together with the above, you may have trouble hearing several 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 distinct frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s essential to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a competent professional.
If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you want.
If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will meticulously 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?