Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by turning the volume up. Here’s something to think about: Lots of people are capable of hearing very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others without any problem.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by issues with the delicate hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and send out chemical messages to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. When these tiny hairs in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, they do not ever re-grow. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused by the natural process of aging. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health problems, and use certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It may be a result of too much earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your root condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

You might hear a little better if people talk louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss issues. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can become 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.

When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them hard to distinguish. 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. Depending on the voice of the person talking, 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. People with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

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 come with a component that goes in the ear, so sounds get to your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are amplified and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also block out background sound to make it easier to make out speech.

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