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Hearing Blog

Things are loud enough just not clear

June 27, 2023

While our ears are very complex...they still must use the brain to make sense of the signals that are being gathered.  The sound waves move and stimulate nerves in the inner ear and then the brain must translate the signal into meaningful words.  The brain is receiving signals from the inner ear that is a damaged or somewhat scattered signal.  Hearing instruments increase the intensity at which sound pressure stimulates the hearing nerves.  During the hearing test it can be determined exactly how well we expect you to hear and UNDERSTAND.  We can determine how well your brain is separating the distorted signal and interpreting what is being delivered.  This specific testing enables us to fit you with the proper style and technology level of hearing instruments that will provide the best speech understanding.

There are many types of hearing loss.  One of the most prevalent types of hearing loss is a “sloping high frequency hearing loss.”  With a hearing loss in primarily the high frequencies; a person will have trouble in understanding speech.  It may be loud enough...just not clear.  Others may sound like they are mumbling.  This is because the high frequencies provide the ‘consonants’ of the alphabet.   This type of hearing loss causes the patient to lose the ability hear these important letters and sounds at the proper intensity.   This decrease then causes the inability to distinguish between the sounds of similar words.   For instance, ‘Shoe’ or ‘Chew.’   If there is no sentence involved, it may be very difficult for a person to pick out the rest of the sounds of ‘Sh’ or ‘Ch.’

When you have a predominately high frequency hearing loss you are missing the letters or sounds where about 80% of your speech understanding comes from.   Take a paragraph out of the paper and black out about 80% of the letters that are consonants.  Then go back and try and read it out loud...just as it looks.  That is how your brain is trying to put it together.  Very you are only hearing about 20 percent of the words as they sound.   With this type of loss, it often seems as though background noise is louder than it is.  This is since there is no longer an equal low frequency to high frequency ratio.  Low frequencies typically provide more background noise.  The high frequencies provide more speech discrimination.  Therefore, if you naturally hear the low frequencies better... you will also hear background noise louder.

The good news... Hearing instruments are very successful at correcting high frequency hearing loss.   By properly correcting the high frequency deficit the signal to noise ratio between noise and speech will be narrowed and closer to ‘1 to 1’ ratio thus making speech clearer...even in background noise.  A newer feature with Starkey Genesis AI hearing instruments allows the patient to have the conversation printed on the screen of their compatible smart phone.  You can even save it to refer to later.  This is an awesome feature for those who have problems understanding as well as remembering what was said.  Keep your senses sharp and clear.  If you are having difficulties with understanding speech, don’t wait...reach out to a qualified Hearing Health Care Provider today.  Are you hearing as well as you should be?  Let us compare and we can answer that question for you.

To Hear Better Is To Live Better!


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