Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by turning up the volume. Think about this: Lots of people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. You generally lose specific frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound muffled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs 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 transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. These delicate hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently caused by 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 occurs when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It could be a congenital structural issue or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In many circumstances, hearing specialists can treat the underlying condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
Asking people to speak up when they talk to you will help to some degree, but it won’t fix your hearing issues. People who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty hearing specific sounds, including consonants in speech. This could cause somebody who has hearing loss to the incorrect idea that those around them are mumbling when in fact, 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 speaking, 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. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. If you can’t hear 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 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. Also, the frequencies you are unable to 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 can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to understand speech.