Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Think about this: Many people are capable of hearing very soft sounds, but can’t make out conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. You often lose certain frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound muffled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical issue in the ear. It could be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. In many cases, hearing specialists can manage the underlying condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by problems with the fragile hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is perceived, it moves these hairs which send chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be sent to the brain for translation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or killed, they don’t regenerate. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently a result of the normal process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

You may hear a bit better if people talk louder to you, but it isn’t going to comprehensively manage your hearing loss problems. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can become difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. This may cause someone who has hearing loss to the incorrect idea that people around them are mumbling when actually, they’re speaking clearly.

When someone is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them hard to distinguish. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. 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. If you can’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift,” it won’t make much difference how loudly the other person talks.

How Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside sound you would normally hear. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you can hear in a balanced way. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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