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Hearing Blog

Does your hearing seem extra sensitive

January 23, 2023

Everyone’s range of comfort is different.  Whether it is a comfort range of how tight you like to wear your pants…. or how far you drive behind someone on the highway.  We also have a range of comfort with our hearing.  When the range is narrow; it is called Recruitment.  This term refers to a person’s sensitivity to sound.  It also has to do with the speed in which the sound becomes uncomfortable.  Recruitment is when sounds rapidly become too loud.  In other words,...not gradually. 

Recruitment usually occurs within a certain area of the patient’s hearing loss.   You may be able to crank up the music with no issue but then someone simply raising their voice just a tad too loud makes you cringe.  How many times have you told your wife that she didn’t need to yell at you?  Each time she said something to you she got a little bit louder because you didn’t answer her correctly.  Then after 3 or 4 times of repeating and getting just a tiny bit louder.... suddenly, her voice just pierced your inner soul.  Of course, she said, “I am NOT yelling!”   More than likely; her voice range is in the same pitch area of your hearing loss and the most sensitive sound zone.  Thus, if you are extra sensitive you may have some hearing loss. 

Damaged hearing hair/nerve cells become ultra-sensitive.  Normal hair cells are located next to the damaged ones.  As sound increases the normal or better hearing hairs are “recruited” to help get the signal to the brain.  The decibel level or volume that the normal hairs kick in will cause rapid growth in sound pressure and thus may be intolerable to the patient.

When someone has recruitment then their hearing instruments should have technology that can accommodate for rapid sound pressure changes between the frequencies.  This accommodation can be achieved with multi-channel, multi-band, instruments that have wide dynamic range capabilities.  There are Hearing instruments that can control sound across the entire frequencies range. They calculate when you hear soft sounds and how quickly they move into a comfortable range and how long they stay comfortable...then how quickly the specific sounds will travel and become loud sounds... and again how long the sound is held at that particular level.  Some instruments have hundreds of possible solutions in which to control and utilize the incoming sound signal.  Most hearing manufacturers have 6-7 levels of technology.  The compression and programming capabilities are different within all the levels.  Your hearing health care provider should be knowledgeable calculating compression needs based on your recruitment sensitivity level. 

Hearing instruments today are little computers that calculate and store data the enable us to get you the most pleasurable listening situations.  Great hearing instruments that have Artificial Intelligence Sensors also constantly learn and adapt immediately to your environment.  Starkey’s latest hearing technology makes over 54 million adjustments and hour!   Everyone should have a baseline hearing examination by a Board-Certified Hearing Health Care Provider.  To Hear Better Is To Live Better!


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