Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always solve hearing loss problems. Think about this: Lots of people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss often occurs unevenly. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they sense sound and release chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. These tiny hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is often a result of the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and illnesses can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical issue in the ear. It might be a congenital structural problem or a result of an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. In most cases, hearing specialists can manage the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining 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 problems. Certain sounds, like consonant sounds, can be hard to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. Although people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition may think that people are mumbling.

The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. Conversely, consonants such as “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.

Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside sound you would typically hear. Also, the frequencies you can’t 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 hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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