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Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss issues aren’t always resolved by cranking up the volume. Consider this: Many people are capable of hearing really soft sounds, but can’t hear conversations. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. Specific frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Types of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more common. These hairs vibrate when they detect sound and release chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. When these little hairs in your inner ear are injured or killed, they don’t ever re-grow. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is usually caused by the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and underlying health conditions can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a mechanical problem in the ear. It might be a congenital structural problem or due to an ear infection or excessive wax accumulation. Your underlying condition, in many circumstances, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, advise hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing loss.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Requesting that people speak up when they talk to you will help to some degree, but it won’t solve your hearing problems. Specific sounds, such as consonant sounds, can be difficult to hear for individuals who have sensorineural hearing loss. This could lead somebody who has hearing loss to the incorrect conclusion that those around them are mumbling when in fact, they are talking clearly.

When someone is coping with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them hard to distinguish. The frequency of sound, or pitch, is measured in hertz (hz) and the higher pitch of consonants is what makes them more difficult for some people to hear. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. Conversely, consonants like “f” and “s” register at 1,500 to 6,000 Hz. Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss have a hard time processing these higher-pitched sounds because of the damage to their inner ears.

Because of this, simply speaking louder is not always helpful. If you can’t hear 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 go in your ears helping sound get into your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the outside noise you would normally hear. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to understand speech by canceling some of the unwanted background noise.

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