Turning up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss problems. Think about this: Many people can’t hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss often occurs unevenly. You generally lose specific frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Types of Hearing Loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the tiny hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is perceived, it moves these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for interpretation. These little hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is usually caused by the normal process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and underlying health conditions can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most circumstances, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if required, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively manage your hearing loss problems. Individuals who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble understanding specific sounds, like consonants in speech. Although people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition might believe that everyone is mumbling.
When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them difficult to distinguish. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and the majority of consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. 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. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone talks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?
Hearing Aids go in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would usually hear. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.