Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by cranking up the volume. Here’s something to think about: Many people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t hear conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss often develops unevenly. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they detect sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for interpretation. When these little hairs in your inner ear are damaged or killed, they do not ever re-grow. This is why the common aging process is often the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and underlying health conditions can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical problem in the ear. It could be because of excessive buildup of earwax or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You might hear a little better if people speak louder to you, but it isn’t going to comprehensively deal with your hearing loss issues. Specific sounds, like consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for people who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. Although people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may believe that everyone is mumbling.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them difficult to hear for someone experiencing hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder for some people to hear. For example, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. Conversely, consonants such as “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Because of 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. If you can’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person speaks.

How do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental noise you would usually hear. 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 canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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