Hearing loss problems aren’t always resolved by cranking up the volume. Think about this: Lots of people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. You tend to lose specific frequencies but are able to hear others, and that can make speech sound garbled.
Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types
- Sensorineural hearing loss is more prevalent and caused by issues with the tiny hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. These hairs move when they detect sound and send out chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for translation. These delicate hairs do not regenerate when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is commonly a result of the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, specific medications, and illnesses can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
- Conductive hearing loss is triggered by a mechanical issue in the ear. It might be because of excessive earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms
You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively manage your hearing loss issues. Individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty understanding specific sounds, including consonants in speech. Despite the fact that people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition may think that everyone is mumbling.
When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them hard to make out. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and the majority of 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 speaking. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.
This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone talks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.
How do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing Aids go inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the environmental sound you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to understand speech.