Understanding high-frequency hearing loss
People with this high-frequency hearing loss condition have trouble hearing sounds in the 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz (Hz) range. In speech, this means the consonants such as s, h or f are harder to hear. Adults with high-frequency hearing loss may have trouble understanding female and children's voices more than male voices and difficulty hearing birds sing or the high-pitched beeping coming from their microwave oven. Speech may seem muffled, especially when using the telephone or in noisy situations. People with this type of hearing loss may feel like they can hear, but not understand.
When children have high-frequency hearing loss, it can impede their ability to learn speech and language, affecting their ability to excel in school.
How does high-frequency hearing loss happen?
High-frequency hearing loss occurs when the sensory hearing cells in your cochlea die or are damaged. These hair cells are responsible for translating the sounds your ears collect into electrical impulses, which your brain eventually interprets as recognizable sound. High-frequency sounds are perceived in the lower part of the cochlea, while the hair cells that perceive low-frequency sounds are located near the top. Because of this, hearing loss typically affects the higher frequencies before it affects the lower frequencies.
Causes of high-frequency hearing loss
People of all ages can be affected by high-frequency hearing loss — and the reasons causing it are just as varied.
Preventing high-frequency hearing loss
High-frequency hearing loss isn’t reversible, but in some cases, it is preventable. One of the best prevention techniques is to protect your hearing against exposure to noise – especially noise louder than 85 decibels (dB). Keep the volume turned down on your personal electronic devices and wear hearing protection whenever you anticipate being in a noisy environment, such as at the shooting range, when riding snowmobiles, or when attending a live concert or sporting event. Inexpensive ear plugs are available at the local drugstore for occasional use. If you regularly engage in very noisy hobbies, consider investing in specialized hearing protection such as noise cancelling headphones or custom-made earmolds which can be purchased through many hearing healthcare professionals.
As you can see, high-frequency hearing loss can result from many different underlying causes, most of which are not medically treatable. Fortunately, high-frequency hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids in most cases.
If you suspect you have hearing loss, use our online directory of hearing clinics to make an appointment to get your hearing tested. If your tests indicate you have hearing loss which can be treated with a hearing device, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, be sure to follow through with treatment recommendations. Research indicates most hearing aid wearers are satisfied with their hearing devices and enjoy a richer quality of life than those who decide not to seek treatment.
That's primarily because hearing aid technology has improved dramatically in the past 10 years. Not only are hearing aids more comfortable than ever, they have great sound quality even in high noise environments, and they connect easily to other personal electronic devices, including your smartphone. Unlike devices from decades past, today's hearing aids don't just make all sounds louder. Instead, the sound is completely customizable to provide amplification for only the sounds you're missing - a godsend for people with high-frequency hearing loss.