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Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Cranking up the volume doesn’t always resolve hearing loss issues. Here’s something to think about: Many people are unable to understand conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. Specific frequencies are muted while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the little hairs in the inner ear, also called cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more typical. When sound is perceived, it vibrates these hairs which deliver chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for interpretation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they don’t regenerate. This is why the ordinary aging process is frequently the cause of sensorineural hearing loss. Over the course of our lives, sensorineural hearing loss develops because we expose ourselves to loud noise, have underlying health conditions, and take certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be a result of excessive earwax buildup or due to an ear infection or a congenital structural problem. Your underlying condition, in many cases, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if needed, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss Symptoms

You might hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it isn’t going to completely deal with your hearing loss challenges. Certain sounds, including consonant sounds, can become hard to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. Even though people around them are speaking clearly, someone with this condition may think that people are mumbling.

The frequency of consonant sounds make them hard to hear for somebody dealing with hearing loss. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and the majority of consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. Depending on the voice of the person speaking, a short “o”, for example, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants like “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

This is why just speaking louder doesn’t always help. It won’t help much when someone speaks louder if you don’t hear some of the letters in a word like “shift”.

How Can Using Hearing Aids Help With This?

Hearing aids come with a component that fits into the ear, so sounds reach your auditory system without the interference you would typically hear in your environment. Also, the frequencies you are unable to hear are boosted and mixed with the sounds you are able to hear in a balanced way. In this way, you attain more clarity. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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