That may be your hearing loss making a nuisance of itself.

One of the most common complaints of people with hearing loss is that they can’t hear well when in groups or in loud noise. This is a result of a very common hearing loss pattern, with better hearing in the low pitch range and worse hearing in the higher pitch ranges. If you have someone, like your spouse or a child, telling you that you don’t hear them well, and if you find yourself thinking that people are mumbling or not pronouncing their words right, that may be an indication that you have a hearing loss.

General symptoms of hearing loss:

It’s very common for people with hearing loss to report that they hear someone talking, but they’re not sure what they’re saying. I call this the Snoopy effect, where sounds are present, but the meaning isn’t clear.

Some signs that you may have a hearing loss include:

  • People complain that your television is too loud
  • You can’t understand what someone is saying in noisy environments
  • A sense of hearing but not understanding what people are saying
  • You often ask others to repeat what was said.
  • You avoid social situations because of difficulty communicating.
  • You’re exhausted after attending social events.
  • You have ringing in your ears.
  • Some sounds seem too loud
  • You feel like people are mumbling

Sensorineural hearing loss is gradual. Generally, it’s a slight, gradual decrease in hearing. But it’s not just a loss of volume that people notice. It most often includes a loss of how clearly (clarity) you perceive speech. On average, it takes about seven to ten years for someone with hearing loss to realize its impact in order to see someone for their hearing loss.

A person with sensorineural hearing loss may notice that loud sounds are increasingly uncomfortable. Whereas watching fireworks on July 4th was an enjoyable experience before, now the exploding fireworks are painfully loud. That phenomenon is known as recruitment, where loud sounds become intolerable or distorted, with the presence of sensorineural hearing loss.

The most common type of hearing loss is a high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. This looks like a ski slope, as in the audiogram below. Some signs of a high-frequency hearing loss include increased difficulty hearing women and children’s voices and missing the consonant sounds of speech. An example of how consonant sounds of speech impact our ability to understand the word is to take words that rhyme with hat.

  • Hat
  • Cat
  • Fat
  • Sat
  • That

The beginning consonant sound indicates to us what the word means. But with sensorineural hearing loss, especially in noisy environments, you may hear the /at/ part of the word but not the initial consonant sound that gives us the word’s meaning. This is known as speech intelligibility, and it is highly impacted by a sensorineural hearing loss

  • Women and children’s voices
  • Certain consonant sounds like s, sh, f, v, th, f, p, are difficult to hear
  • The car’s turn signal
  • Beeping sounds on timers and microwave ovens
  • Birds chirping

Why is high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss so common?

In order to understand why a high-frequency hearing loss is so common, it’s important to understand the hearing mechanism within the ear. The hearing organ in the ear is called the cochlea, and it’s shaped like a snail shell. Within the cochlea are hair cells that transmit sound that comes into the ear to the hair cells, transmitting the signal to the hearing nerve to the brain.


Once the sound reaches the inner ear hair cells, the sound wave stimulation passes through the cochlea and lands on the area of that sound resonance. But all sound waves, high pitched or low pitch, pass through the high pitch region to get to their destination. Therefore, the high-frequency region of hair cells gets the most stimulation and is more apt to break down over time.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, then you may have hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, hearing loss from damaged hair cells, does not recover and generally does not get better. What that means for you is that ignoring the signs of hearing loss only makes the hearing loss more obvious to the people around you.

An untreated hearing loss is more noticeable than hearing aids.

You may think you have it covered, but if people around you are complaining that the TV is too loud and you have to ask for repeats frequently, then it’s time to address your hearing problem. It is the best gift you can give yourself. And remember, living with an untreated hearing loss isn’t fooling anyone. And in the long run, you’ll only be shortchanging yourself. So give yourself the gift of hearing. Make an appointment today.

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