Hearing Loss

Here’s something most people are surprised to discover: in the majority of cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds without any problem, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.

In particular, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common form of hearing loss, referred to as 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, on the other hand, may not be detected at all.

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

To start with, sound can be characterized both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are within 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 fairly 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 severe hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have difficulty hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech consists of a combination 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 occur with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants express the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations or TV show 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 for once have a valid defense.

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

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

3. The chirping of birds

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

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically describe their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of generating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

Together with the above, you may have difficulty 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 trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have difficulty hearing. That’s why it’s imperative to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a skilled professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

If you suspect you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our experienced 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?