Hearing Loss

Here’s something many people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.

Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common form of hearing loss, called high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression 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 begin with, sound can be characterized both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. 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 reasonably 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 severe hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

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 occur with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants express most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations 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 legitimate excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, those with hearing loss might find it much 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 songs of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds completely.

In fact, we’ve had patients specifically note their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music in general 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

In addition to the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specific frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

If you suspect you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?