Hearing Loss

Here’s something most people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with particular sounds.

Particularly, if you have trouble only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common type of hearing loss, called high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be perceived at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?

To start with, sound can be characterized both by its loudness (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Inside of that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably 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:

1. Consonants

Speech comprises a mixture of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are typically easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants express most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following discussions or movie plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a legitimate defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. Because of this, people with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.

Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will frequently be the primary incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you could stop hearing these sounds entirely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically describe their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music in general does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

In combination with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The secret to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specific frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s vital to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will meticulously 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?