Why Can I Hear Soft Sounds But Can't Make Out Conversations?

HEARING TIPS

Woman struggling to hear her husband while camping.

Hearing loss problems aren’t always solved by turning up the volume. Consider this: Lots of people are unable to hear conversations even though they are able to hear soft sounds. The reason for this is hearing loss frequently develops unevenly. Certain frequencies get lost while you can hear others perfectly fine.

Hearing Loss Comes in Numerous Types

  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hairs in the inner ear, also known as cilia, are harmed, and this condition is more common. When sound is perceived, it vibrates these hairs which transmit chemical messages to the auditory nerve to be passed to the brain for translation. These delicate hairs do not heal when damaged or destroyed. This is why sensorineural hearing loss is frequently caused by the natural process of aging. Things like exposure to loud noise, certain medications, and underlying health conditions can also bring about sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when the ear has internal mechanical issues. It could be a congenital structural issue or due to an ear infection or excessive wax buildup. In most cases, hearing specialists can treat the root condition to enhance your hearing, and if necessary, recommend hearing aids to make up for any remaining hearing loss.

Symptoms of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

You may hear a bit better if people speak louder to you, but it’s not going to completely manage your hearing loss challenges. Individuals who cope with sensorineural hearing loss have trouble making out certain sounds, like consonants in speech. Even though people around them are speaking clearly, someone with this condition may think that people are mumbling.

When someone is dealing with hearing loss, the frequency of consonants often makes them hard to make out. Pitch is measured in hertz (Hz), and most consonants register in our ears at a higher pitch than other sounds. For instance, a short “o” registers at 250 to 1,000 Hz, depending on the voice of the person talking. But consonants including “f” or “s” will be anywhere from 1,500 to 6,000 hertz. People with sensorineural hearing loss have difficulty processing these higher-pitched sounds due to the damage to their inner ears.

Because of this, simply talking 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 speaks.

How do Hearing Aids Help?

Hearing aids have a component that goes in the ear, so sounds reach your auditory system without the interference you would normally hear in your environment. Hearing aids also help you by boosting the frequencies you can’t hear and balancing that with the frequencies you are able to hear. This makes what you hear much more clear. Modern hearing aids also make it easier to hear speech by blocking some of the unwanted background noise.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Why wait? You don’t have to live with hearing loss. Call or Text Us