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Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Turning up the volume doesn’t always solve hearing loss problems. Consider this: Many people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. That’s because hearing loss is often uneven. You tend to lose certain frequencies but have no problem hearing others, and that can make voices sound garbled.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the little hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are damaged, and this condition is more typical. These hairs move when they sense sound and send out chemical impulses to the auditory nerve, which passes them to the brain for translation. When these delicate hairs in your inner ear are injured or destroyed, they do not regenerate. This is why the common 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 issues, and take certain medications.
  • Conductive hearing loss happens when the ear has internal mechanical problems. It could be because of too much earwax buildup or caused by an ear infection or a congenital structural issue. Your root condition, in many cases, can be managed by your hearing specialist and they can, if necessary, recommend hearing aids to help fill in any remaining hearing impairment.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You might hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to comprehensively address your hearing loss challenges. Particular sounds, like consonant sounds, can be hard to hear for individuals who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. This might cause someone with hearing loss to the incorrect idea that those around them are mumbling when in fact, they’re speaking clearly.

When somebody is dealing with hearing loss, the pitch of consonants often makes them difficult to make out. 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 instance, will register between 250 and 1,000 hertz. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. Due to damage to the inner ear, these higher pitches are difficult to hear for people who have sensorineural hearing loss.

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 talks.

How do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing Aids fit inside your ears helping sound reach your auditory system more directly and get rid of some of the environmental sound you would typically hear. Hearing aids also help you by amplifying the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. In this way, you get more clarity. Modern hearing aids can also cancel out background sound to make it easier to make out speech.

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