Here’s one thing most people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.
In particular, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common type of hearing loss, referred to as 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 heard at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal 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 standard hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, 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 around 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 increasing the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech entails 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 usually 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 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 countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a valid defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, 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 often be the prime incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs 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 reveal 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 many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running 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 difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s essential to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or worse yet 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 meticulously test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?