Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking up the volume. Consider this: Many people can’t hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss often occurs unevenly. You often lose certain frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound muffled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more common. When sound is sensed, it vibrates these hairs which send chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for translation. When these little hairs in your inner ear are injured or killed, they do not ever re-grow. This is why the common aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and underlying health conditions can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss develops when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be a congenital structural issue or because of an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

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

When someone is coping with hearing loss, the pitch 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 harder for some people to hear. Depending on the voice of the person talking, a short “o”, for instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants including “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 due to the damage to their inner ears.

This is why simply speaking louder doesn’t always help. If you can’t understand 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 inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental noise you would usually hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you can hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background noise to make it easier to make out speech.

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