Here’s one thing most people are surprised to learn: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.
Particularly, 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 likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?
To begin with, sound can be characterized both by its intensity (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated 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 important sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Inside of that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 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 raising the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech features 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 usually easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems result 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 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 might for once have a legitimate excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. For this reason, those with hearing loss may find it much easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the primary 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 crafting high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for those with hearing loss.
Music on the whole does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
Along with the above, you may have difficulty 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 secret to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you desire.
If you believe you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?