"I hear loud enough, I just don't understand what's being said"
This is a common complaint, as almost everybody who loses their hearing through natural aging and from noise damage experiences this problem. Hearing loss typically doesn't happen over night. Usually a person effected by hearing loss will gradually lose small amounts of their hearing sensitivity over many years and in most cases they will lose their hearing sensitivity in the middle and highest frequencies while maintaining normal or close to normal hearing in the low frequencies. Since the low frequencies in speech provide us with our sense of volume and the middle and high frequencies allow us to hear the softer consonant sounds in speech providing us with our speech intelligibility, people with this pattern of hearing loss often encounter the problem of hearing loud enough, but not understanding what is being said.
Unfortunately most people don't look for hearing loss solutions for years because they often don't feel it's a problem of hearing loss. Unfortunately the signs of hearing loss are often not recognized and the person struggling will blame their communication problems on the people and environments around them: "Kids don't talk clearly anymore" "The new TV programs have too much background noise" "The minister needs a better microphone" "I can't hear when your talking from the other room" "Everybody mumbles" ect. ect..
In actuality a person has lost their natural ability to hear the frequency that defines various consonants in speech, consider how subtle the difference is between: 'each' 'beach' 'peach' and 'teach'. As you can see, a hearing loss that prevents the audibility of a single letter in speech can garble words and easily give the perception that people are not speaking clearly and mumbling their words. In quiet settings a person experiencing mild high frequency hearing loss can usually fill in the blank with the context of the conversation. Consider hearing the sentence below through normal hearing ears:
"I tried to teach my students the difference between boredom and apathy today" (normal hearing)
Now consider hearing the same sentence through ears affected by high frequency hearing loss that prevents the audibility of the letter 't' in the sentence below:
"I _ried _o _each my s_uden_s _he difference be_ween boredom and apa_hy _oday" (high frequency hearing loss)
The video below demonstrates how progressively worsening sensorineural hearing loss affects our ability to hear.
As you just heard, the effects of hearing loss vastly change depending on degree. Although listening to speech in quiet usually isn't challenging when just the highest frequencies have hearing loss, some sounds, like the songs of birds chirping or keys rattling will be reduced in volume or completely inaudible. It is very challenging to find a hearing aid that will amplify a select few frequencies and not amplify the frequencies that you still hear in the normal range. Picking the wrong hearing aid causes occlusion and may provide more negatives from amplification than positives. When it comes to choosing the right hearing aid for high frequency hearing loss nothing works better than open-fit hearing aids. The design of open-fit hearing aids allows them to amplify the areas of hearing loss without amplifying the areas that are still heard within the normal range.
Review our section on understanding hearing aid technology to better understand how open-fit hearing aids provide the best hearing solutions to people with high frequency hearing loss, or select one of our open-fit hearing aids to begin your journey to better hearing right now.
The more noticeable the hearing loss the earlier people begin looking for hearing loss solutions. The longer a person lives with hearing loss before using hearing aids the greater the incidence of auditory deprivation, which can permanently affect the brains ability to discern similar words in speech. Speech understanding occurs in the brain, not in the ears. The brain translates all of the information from the ears and allows you to discern the very subtle difference between similar words, like 'beach' & 'peach'. When hearing loss prevents the brain from receiving all of the frequencies in speech you lose the ability to hear the difference between similar words. A hearing aid is designed to provide the missing information and restore the brains ability to discern similar words. If hearing loss ages for too long the brain loses it's ability to tell the difference between similar words, even after they begin wearing hearing aids. This is the single most important reason that people with hearing loss should begin wearing hearing aids at the earliest stage in their hearing loss.
It's important to remember that when it comes to our ears.....
"If we don't use them, we can lose them....permanently!"