Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking the volume up. Here’s something to think about: Many people can’t understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the little hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are damaged or killed, they do not ever re-grow. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently caused by the natural process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health problems, and use certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be because of too much earwax buildup or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. In most cases, hearing specialists can manage the underlying condition to improve your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

Asking people to talk louder will help to some extent, but it won’t solve your hearing issues. Certain sounds, such as consonant sounds, can be hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. This could cause someone who has hearing loss to the incorrect idea that those around them are mumbling when in fact, they’re speaking clearly.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for someone experiencing hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and the majority of consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Because of damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.

Because of this, simply speaking 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 talks.

How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing Aids go in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside sound you would typically hear. Also, the frequencies you can’t hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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