Here’s one thing most people are surprised to learn: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with particular sounds.
In particular, 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 likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing 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 standard hearing?
To begin with, sound can be characterized both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at fairly low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as high as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech includes a mix 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 develop with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants transmit the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following discussions or TV show 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 may for once have a legitimate excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. For this reason, those with hearing loss might find it easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will often be the primary motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds completely.
Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically reveal 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 making high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
In combination with the above, you may have difficulty hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of streaming water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s essential to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by an experienced professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you want.
If you suspect you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?