Help! I have high frequency hearing loss.

Two very common types of hearing loss include noise induced hearing loss and presbycusis, or age related hearing loss. Both of these are permanent in the fact that once our inner ear hair cells are damaged, we have no way in restoring their function to normal. Both conditions frequently result in something call high frequency hearing loss.

What is high frequency hearing loss?

Our ears hear a wide range of tones or frequencies. These range from low or bass tones, to high or treble tones. Often times, only part of the hearing range is damaged. For people who have high frequency hearing loss, it is not uncommon to have normal hearing for the bass or low pitch tones, but to have lost the ability to hear the high pitches. If you picture a radio that has all of the treble tuned out of it, this is what it can be like with high frequency hearing loss. You will still hear, but often times people complain of a lack of clarity.

How can high frequency hearing loss affect me?

Clarity in our hearing comes from the ability to hear high frequency sounds. We have many valuable speech sounds in the high frequency region that are important for distinguishing words. These include the “s” “f” “t” “th” sounds to name a few. Somebody who has high frequency hearing loss may hear the word “wife” and “white” the same, and this often leads to a misunderstanding. We will hear patients with high frequency hearing loss say, “I can hear the voice, I just don’t understand what they’re saying.”

Missing out on these valuable speech cues and having misunderstanding can be very frustrating. This frustration can lead to the listener giving up, or possibly isolating themselves because they don’t want to put in the extra effort to communicate.

Hearing aids can help with high frequency hearing loss

Hearing aid technology allows for the important speech information to be amplified to a point that the individual ear can use the information again. It is important that individuals don’t go too long without hearing the high frequencies because the longer the brain goes w/out hearing certain tones, the harder it is to introduce them back at a later time. Remember, the brain is a muscle, and you have to keep it exercised to keep it strong.

Take home

The first step in identifying whether or not hearing loss exists, is to visit an audiologist for a hearing test. If you think you may have hearing loss come meet with one of our Doctors of Audiology. Together we work with our medical doctors to come up with the best treatment options for your needs. Call us at 651-888-7800 to schedule an appointment.

In the meantime, here is some information about why our hearing is so important. 

Photo by Dawid Sobolewski on Unsplash

Why Hearing is Important

Your hearing is important because it is what connects you with the world around you. It is one of our five precious senses. It is not something that is typically asked about by your family practice doctors but it is the sense that stimulates the brain the most. How important is hearing, really?

Birth-to-school age

We begin hearing in the womb and can recognize our mother’s voice before we are even born! Early on in life, our hearing allows us to start learning language. Unless sign language is used, our hearing is an integral part in language development. Babies and toddlers will imitate the sounds of the world around them before they develop language. Strong language development lays the groundwork for our educational years.

School-age

While in our school-aged years, our hearing becomes important for both social and educational reasons. People who are unable to hear their teachers may start to fall behind their peers. This may also impact and shape social connections. Our life experiences build through our educational years. Hearing loss can be isolating and have an impact on how social connections are built.

Adult

Once people are entering the workforce, hearing can have a major impact on employment opportunities and earning potential. A study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology (2012) found that people with hearing loss are more likely to be either unemployed, or earn significantly lower incomes than their normal hearing peers.

Retirement

The more common impacts of hearing loss tend to show in our elderly and aging population. Hearing loss becomes increasingly common as age increases. Our bodies wear out with age, and hearing is no different. Keeping the brain stimulated and active is a key activity to prevent this wear and tear from impacting our brains. If hearing loss prevents people from engaging in their social lives, the brain can start to shrink from lack of use. This can also lead to isolation, depression, and overall lower quality-of-life. If hearing loss goes untreated long enough, it can even cause neurological changes.

Hearing is important at every stage of life. We can take steps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss by wearing hearing protection in hazardous levels of noise. Some hearing loss in unpreventable. This is why it is important to get routine hearing evaluations so that you can catch changes before they may problematic and bothersome. Call our office today at (651) 888-7888 to schedule your hearing evaluation!