Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss problems aren’t always solved by turning the volume up. Consider this: Lots of people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they detect sound and send out chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. These little hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why the normal aging process is often the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss increases because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health issues, and use certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In many cases, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

Requesting that people speak up when they talk to you will help some, but it won’t fix your hearing problems. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can become difficult to hear for people who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. This might lead somebody with hearing loss to the mistaken conclusion that those around them are mumbling when actually, they are speaking clearly.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for somebody 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 talking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.

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

How do 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 normally 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 also make it easier to hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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