Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by turning the volume up. Think about this: Many people can’t hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. You generally lose particular frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more prevalent. These hairs move when they sense sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or killed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why the common aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss happens when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It may be a result of excessive buildup of earwax or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. Your underlying condition, in many cases, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
You might hear a little better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively deal with your hearing loss issues. People who have sensorineural hearing loss have trouble understanding specific sounds, including consonants in speech. This could lead someone with hearing loss to the incorrect conclusion that those around them are mumbling when actually, they’re speaking clearly.
The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. 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 Using Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing aids have a component that fits into 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. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.