Here’s something many people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have difficulty only with select sounds.
Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common kind of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you can probably hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the impression that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, on the other hand, may not be perceived at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with standard hearing?
To begin with, sound can be described both by its intensity (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).
With standard hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a fairly low volume of around 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you may be able to hear the lower frequencies at relatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as high as 90 decibels with severe hearing loss).
So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?
Here are four:
Speech features a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.
Vowel sounds, like the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are usually easy to hear even with hearing loss.
Problems surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants convey most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following discussions or TV show plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a valid defense.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. Because of this, people with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandchildren, and this will often be the key incentive for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds completely.
Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically mention their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds again with their new hearing aids.
4. Certain musical instruments
The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of making high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music on the whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.
How hearing aids can help
Along with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of streaming water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The secret to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s essential to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a skilled professional.
If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you desire.
If you think you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced hearing professionals will meticulously test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.
Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?