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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing many people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear many sounds just fine, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.

Particularly, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common kind of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can most likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating 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 healthy hearing?

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

With standard hearing, you’d be able 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 Hz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a fairly low volume of around 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing 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 includes 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 develop with consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants transmit the majority of of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that individuals with high frequency hearing loss have trouble following conversations or movie plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the countless numbers of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they may possibly for once have a viable defense.

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

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will frequently be the prime motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

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

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically point out 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 creating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music on the whole does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be differentiated.

How hearing aids can help

Combined with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of streaming water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The trick to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a seasoned professional.

If you amplify the incorrect frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you want.

If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, identify the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?