Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with particular sounds.
Specifically, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common form of hearing loss, referred to as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can most likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?
To start with, sound can be defined both by its loudness (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 Hz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside 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 fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much 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 contains a blend 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 emerge with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants transmit most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or movie plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a legitimate excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. For this reason, people with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.
Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, 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 may stop hearing these sounds entirely.
Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically cite 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 making high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music generally does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
Together 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 vital to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a qualified professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you desire.
If you suspect you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced 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 start enjoying your favorite sounds again?