High-Frequency Hearing Loss & Why You Struggle To Understand People - Attune
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High-Frequency Hearing Loss & Why You Struggle To Understand People

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Have you noticed that your children mumble? Do you struggle to understand people on the phone? Can you hear your best mates fine, but sometimes don’t understand what your partner is saying? Don’t worry, as hearing care specialists we constantly encounter patients who can hear some people, but not others. In today’s post, we’ll address how that’s possible and what it has to do with hearing loss.

The Signs of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects people in different ways, due to the nature and type of hearing loss. The most common forms of hearing loss are noise-induced, caused by excessive and prolonged noise exposure, and age-related presbycusis, resulting from the effects of ageing. 

Both types of hearing loss, noise-induced and age-related, can affect high frequencies. In this case, low-pitched sounds are easy to hear, but high-pitched sounds (above 1000 Hz) have to be amplified before some with high-frequency hearing loss can hear them.

Click here to learn more about sound frequency and how it works!

As a result, women and children’s voices are often more difficult to understand, as they tend to be high frequency in tone, especially in noisy environments. Hence, people with hearing loss feel that they mumble. This, in turn, causes frustration for both the hearing impaired and the person they are attempting to communicate with.              

If this sounds familiar to you, you might also experience the following:        

  • Lower frequencies, typical for trucks, thunder and rustling of leaves, are predominantly unaffected by this type of hearing loss and tend to mask conversations. 
  • It becomes very difficult to communicate in situations where there is any kind of background noise. This can lead to the avoidance of social interactions and public spaces if left unattended.
  • Vowel sounds (A, E, I, O and U) are low in pitch and therefore no problem. But consonants like S, Th, Sh, V, P and others are high pitched. As a result, they are often not heard by a person with hearing loss. That’s why the word ‘dish’ can sound like ‘fish’. 

Another issue, apart from trying our best to include people with hearing loss in conversations, is our positioning when we speak. Today, there is often little consideration of acoustics and noise interference in the design of homes and public spaces. Noise reduction is a thing of the past, homes now are open plan as are restaurants and other venues. Ambient noise in these environments masks speech and makes conversation difficult – with or without a hearing loss.  

smiling girl

Improving Communication With High-Frequency Hearing Loss

There are some simple steps you can take to improve your communication with the people in your life: Face people when you talk, make sure you can see their face and they can see yours. Don’t talk from another room. Remember the easy rule: Just because you can hear me doesn’t mean that I can hear you.

If you have a high-frequency hearing loss, remember the following:

  • Don’t walk away when talking.
  • Minimise noise when having conversations, position yourself with noise behind. 
  • If you need to have an important conversation, consider a quieter environment to have it in.
  • Facial cues and lighting can also help with understanding conversation.
  • Don’t look away while having a conversation focus on the person you are talking to.
  • Gain the attention of the person before you speak.

Book an Appointment With Attune!

If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss or suspect you may have a hearing loss, see your local Hearing care provider. There are many options available to help you hear better, address your hearing problems and communication issues. 

Hearing aids and modern hearing technology adapt to your needs. Hearing aids can amplify high-pitched sounds, without amplifying low-pitched sounds. These assistive devices help people with hearing loss lead normal lives, communicate better with less fatigue and stress. 

hearing aids for both ears

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

However, assistive listening devices don’t work for everyone. If the underlying issue is an auditory processing disorder (APD), the nervous system doesn’t make sense of the input coming from the ears. Both adults and children can be affected by this disorder. It is yet another important reason to see your local hearing specialist and book a comprehensive hearing assessment

What To Do Next

It is never too late to start your journey to better hearing health and protect your hearing. If you have trouble hearing, give your local hearing specialist a call and ask them any hearing-related questions you may have. Or book a comprehensive hearing assessment online to get to the bottom of your worries and find appropriate management options.

Attune Hearing clinics offer a range of medical services. With over 50 audiology cinics Australia-wide, we put the health and well-being of our patients first, always. Find your local Attune clinic today and book a diagnostic hearing test.

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