Turning up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss problems. Think about this: Many people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be a congenital structural problem or because of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
- Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more prevalent. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. These delicate hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the ordinary aging process is often 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 problems, and use certain medications.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You might hear a little better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. Particular sounds, such as consonant sounds, can become difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. Even though people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition might think that people are mumbling.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for somebody experiencing hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.
Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental sound you would typically hear. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are amplified and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.