Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always solved by cranking the volume up. Here’s something to consider: Many people are able to hear very soft sounds, but can’t understand conversations. That’s because hearing loss is frequently uneven. You often lose particular frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make speech sound muffled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It might be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. Your root condition, in many circumstances, can be addressed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss develops when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they sense sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which transmits them to the brain for interpretation. These tiny hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is often a result of the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to completely deal with your hearing loss challenges. People who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble understanding specific sounds, including consonants in speech. Although people around them are talking clearly, someone with this condition might think that everyone is mumbling.

The pitch of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for someone experiencing hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and many consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person speaking. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are hard to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss.

Because of this, simply talking louder is not always helpful. 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 Can Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and eliminating some of the environmental noise you would typically hear. Also, the frequencies you can’t hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. This makes what you hear a lot more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

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