Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have difficulty only with select sounds.
In particular, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common form of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be perceived at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?
To start with, sound can be described both by its loudness (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 Hz, but the most worthwhile 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 between 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you might 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 high as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech consists of a mix 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 surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that individuals 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 may for once have a legitimate defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. Because of this, people 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 frequently be the leading motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds entirely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically cite 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 producing high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for those with hearing loss.
Music generally does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.
How hearing aids can help
Combined with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The secret to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specific frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s essential to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a competent 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 experienced hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?