Turning up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Think about this: Lots of people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently occurs unevenly. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others without any problem.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for translation. These tiny hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently a result of the normal process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health issues, and use certain medications.
- Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can treat the underlying condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Asking people to talk louder will help to some degree, but it won’t fix your hearing issues. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble understanding certain sounds, like consonants in speech. Even though people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition might believe that everyone is mumbling.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for somebody dealing with hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants such as “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. If you can’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person speaks.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids have a component that goes in the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would normally hear in your environment. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also block out background sound to make it easier to understand speech.