High Frequency Hearing Loss
Sound waves can be high or low on the frequency scale. As you might know, sound is made up of waves created by vibrations that move through a medium, in this case, air. Sound vibrates through a rhythmic, to-and-fro manner. Frequency of sound refers to the number of back-and-forth oscillations, or cycles, in a given period of time. Sound with many cycles per unit of time is called high-frequency sound, whereas low-frequency sounds generate fewer back-and-forth cycles in a specified period of time.
Why is this important? Most people lose the ability to hear high-frequency sounds before low-frequency ones. Losing the power to hear high-frequency sounds makes interpreting speech especially difficult. If you have high-frequency hearing loss, you may hear people talking to you but have problems understanding what they’re saying. That’s because high-frequency hearing loss makes it harder to hear consonants, which carry most of the meaning in words.
When you have high-frequency hearing problems, you can still hear vowels because they’re lower in frequency, but speech isn’t very intelligible without the consonants! That’s why you have to ask people to repeat things and why you can’t hear what people are saying when the television volume is low. With high-frequency hearing loss, it’s particularly hard to hear what people are saying in a crowded room with lots of background noise. If you have this type of hearing loss, it’s also more difficult to hear what kids and women are saying because they produce higher-frequency sounds when they talk.
If you have problems understanding speech or what you hear on the television, have your hearing checked. Special hearing aids are available that amplify high-frequency sounds while letting you use your own low-frequency hearing. These hearing aids are called open-fit hearing aids, and they make conversation natural with the high-frequency sounds easier to hear and understand. Stop dealing with the frustrations of not hearing what’s going on around you and seek help from an audiologist.
Living with Hearing Loss