Here’s something most people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have trouble only with specific sounds.
Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common kind of hearing loss, referred to as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can most likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be heard at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?
To begin with, sound can be classified both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With normal 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 within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. 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 comparatively 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 profound hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech involves a combination of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are typically easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems occur with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants present the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following discussions or movie plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a legitimate defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. As a result, 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 oftentimes be the prime motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds completely.
Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically point out 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 creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for those with hearing loss.
Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
In addition to the above, you may have difficulty hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s vital to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.
If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.
If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?