Hearing Loss

Here’s something many people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds just fine, and have difficulty only with select 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 probably hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be heard at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with standard hearing?

To begin with, sound can be characterized both by its loudness (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most worthwhile sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Within 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 might be able to hear the lower frequencies at relatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing 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 consists of a mixture of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are in most cases easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems result 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 those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty 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 might for once have a legitimate excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. As a result, people with hearing loss may find it much easier to hear the male voice.

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will oftentimes be the principal incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The songs of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds entirely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically talk about 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 generating high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for those with hearing loss.

Music generally does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

Along with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.

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

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

If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you want.

If you think you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will thoroughly 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?