Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always solve hearing loss problems. Think about this: Lots of people are capable of hearing very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently occurs unevenly. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Conductive hearing loss is a result of a mechanical issue in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by issues with the fragile hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for interpretation. These delicate hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the ordinary aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

Requesting that people talk louder will help to some degree, but it won’t fix your hearing issues. Individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty making out specific sounds, like consonants in speech. Even though people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition may believe that everyone is mumbling.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. But consonants like “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

This is why simply 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 do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids go inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would normally hear. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are amplified and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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