Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by turning up the volume. Here’s something to consider: Lots of people can’t understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. You often lose particular frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound muffled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be a result of excessive earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. In many cases, hearing specialists can treat the underlying condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more common. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. When these little hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why the ordinary aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, particular medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

You might hear a little better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. People with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble making out certain sounds, like consonants in speech. Despite the fact that people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may believe that everyone is mumbling.

When somebody is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them difficult to make out. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and the majority of consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. Conversely, consonants such as “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing aids come with a component that goes in the ear, so sounds reach your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. 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 can also cancel out background sound to make it easier to make out speech.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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