Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always remedy hearing loss issues. Here’s something to consider: Many people can’t understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often irregular. You generally lose specific frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound muffled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It might be a result of too much earwax buildup or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. In most cases, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to improve your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to fill in for any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more prevalent. These hairs vibrate when they sense sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. These little hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently caused by the natural 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

Asking people to talk louder will help some, but it won’t solve your hearing issues. People who have sensorineural hearing loss have a difficult time making out certain sounds, including consonants in speech. Despite the fact that people around them are talking clearly, somebody with this condition might believe that everyone is mumbling.

The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone dealing with hearing loss. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them harder 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 like “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

This is why simply 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 speaks.

How do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the outside sound you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you’re unable to hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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