Here’s something most people are surprised to learn: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with particular sounds.
Specifically, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may have the most common kind of hearing loss, called 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, however, may not be detected at all.
So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?
To start with, sound can be described both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).
With normal hearing, you’d be able to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, but the most important sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 0-25 decibels.
With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much 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 mixture 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 develop with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants express most of the meaning in speech, it’s not surprising that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following discussions or movie plots.
2. The voices of women and children
For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may possibly for once have a legitimate excuse.
Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. For this reason, people with hearing loss may find it much easier to hear the male voice.
Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the prime motivator for a hearing test.
3. The chirping of birds
The songs of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you may stop hearing these sounds entirely.
In fact, 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 crafting high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.
Music on the whole does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.
How hearing aids can help
In combination with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.
But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.
The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s important to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a qualified professional.
If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you want.
If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned 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 begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?