Hearing loss is a widespread condition affecting young and old alike. While some degree of hearing loss is normal as we age, the problem may be compounded by excessive noise exposure, trauma to the ears or head, and diseases. Technology has improved dramatically over the years; today’s hearing aids can help many patients cope with communication deficits, improving their quality of life.
The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Pitch is measured in frequency of sound vibrations per second. A deep voice has a low pitch and frequency, whereas a feminine or childlike voice will have a high pitch and frequency.
High-Frequency Hearing Loss
During the onset of hearing loss, high frequencies are usually lost first. One of the earliest symptoms of hearing loss is difficulty hearing or understanding the high-pitched voices of women and children. Please keep in mind there is a difference between hearing somebody and understanding what they are saying. High-frequency hearing loss distorts sound, which makes speech difficult to understand even if it can be heard.
A person with hearing loss often has trouble differentiating words that sound alike, especially when they contain consonants in a higher frequency range, particularly those with S, F, SH, CH, H, TH, T, K or soft C sounds.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is comprised of five different levels, or degrees. Those with normal hearing can perceive sounds that are very soft, while those with profound hearing loss are unable to decipher sounds lower than 90 dB.
Some types of hearing loss occur naturally, and little can be done to prevent them. But hearing loss that occurs as a result of noise exposure is avoidable if you protect yourself by wearing earplugs in noisy situations, limiting the volume on MP3 player or television, and contacting an audiologist at the first sign of trouble.