Here’s one thing many 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 difficulty only with certain sounds.
Specifically, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common form of hearing loss, called high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be perceived at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?
To begin with, sound can be described both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d have the ability 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 Hertz. Inside of 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 may 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, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech consists of a combination of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are in most cases easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems result with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants transmit most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following discussions 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 might for once have a legitimate defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. Because of this, those with hearing loss may find it much easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will often be the key motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds completely.
In fact, we’ve had patients specifically note 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 challenging to hear for those with hearing loss.
Music in general does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.
How hearing aids can help
In addition to the above, you may have difficulty 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 trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specific frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by an experienced 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 suspect you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned 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 begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?