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Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Turning up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss problems. Here’s something to consider: Many people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others without any problem.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Conductive hearing loss happens when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It might be a congenital structural issue or due to an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to improve your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by problems with the little hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. These tiny hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why the normal aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, particular medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural 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 trouble hearing specific sounds, including consonants in speech. This may cause someone with hearing loss to the mistaken conclusion that those around them are mumbling when actually, they’re speaking clearly.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for somebody experiencing hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. 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.

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 Using Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing aids have 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 are unable to hear are boosted 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 understand speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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