Hearing Loss

Here’s something most people are surprised to learn: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds without any problem, and have difficulty only with specific sounds.

In particular, if you have trouble 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 in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be perceived at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?

To start with, sound can be defined both by its intensity (calculated in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated 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 Hertz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a fairly low volume of between 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at comparatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as high as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech consists of a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are usually easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems come about with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are harder to hear. Since consonants convey the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty 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 may possibly for once have a valid excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. For this reason, people with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will oftentimes be the primary motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are generally in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds completely.

In fact, we’ve had patients specifically cite 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 producing high frequency sounds can be challenging to hear for those 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

Together with the above, you may have trouble hearing many other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s vital to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.

If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you want.

If you think you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to begin enjoying your favorite sounds again?