Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by turning up the volume. Here’s something to consider: Many people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is frequently irregular. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss is more common and caused by problems with the delicate hairs, or cilia, in the inner ear. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for translation. When these fragile hairs in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why the natural aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health problems, and take certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It might be a result of too much buildup of earwax or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your underlying condition, in many cases, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Asking people to talk louder will help to some extent, but it won’t solve your hearing problems. Specific sounds, like consonant sounds, can become difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. Despite the fact that people around them are speaking clearly, somebody with this condition may believe that everyone is mumbling.

When somebody is coping with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them difficult to distinguish. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is calculated in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. 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 difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.

This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It’s not going to help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t understand some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Wearing Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing aids come with a component that fits into the ear, so sounds reach your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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