Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss problems aren’t always solved by cranking up the volume. Here’s something to think about: Many people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. You generally lose specific frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound garbled.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It might be a result of too much earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your root condition, in many circumstances, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more prevalent. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they do not regenerate. This is why the common aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health conditions, and take certain medications.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You may hear a little better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively manage your hearing loss challenges. People who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty hearing certain sounds, like consonants in speech. Despite the fact that people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition may think that everyone is mumbling.

When somebody is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them difficult to distinguish. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone talks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids go inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the environmental sound you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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