Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with certain 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 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 start with, sound can be described both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With standard hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. 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 fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing 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 contains 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 result with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants transmit the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising 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 may possibly for once have a legitimate excuse.
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.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the key incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds entirely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically describe their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds again with their new hearing aids.
4. Certain musical instruments
The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of crafting high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for those with hearing loss.
Music on the whole 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 flowing water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s essential to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a skilled professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.
If you think you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will comprehensively 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?