High Frequency Hearing LossNormally a healthy person of around 20 years of age can hear in the frequency range of20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. As we age, the ability to discern sounds in the upper frequencyrange deteriorates.As a matter of fact, for the average middle aged man this upper range drops to around12,000 Hz. What are the impacts of this for understanding speech and what can bedone about it? Hearing loss in higher frequencies can often make it more difficult to hear speech sounds like S, F, T, or TH. However, speech sounds with lower frequency distributions, like vowels, can still be heard. The personal dilemma is that in this case, affected people can hear conversation loudly enough, but without clear understanding of what is being said. In addition this type of hearing loss can deprive people of the ability to hear higher pitched sounds like bird songs or some musical instruments. Not hearing sounds clearly, especially speech sounds, can causepeople to become bitter and withdrawn since it is more difficult for them to participate inconversations or even to experience things they would ordinarily enjoy.Fortunately there are solutions. Modern digital hearing aids are designed with featureswhich can help to restore the ability to hear higher frequency sounds. This is sometimesdone with special amplification or algorithms which can change the processing of higherfrequency sounds.In order to determine if you are affected by this, an audiologist can test your hearing anddetermine the specific type of hearing loss you are experiencing. She can then performprecise adjustments to hearing aids so that they can provide you with the best resultsfor your particular type of loss.In this way it is very possible to enjoy sounds which you have been unable toexperience for many years. This has had a tremendous impact on many peoples’ lives.The high quality hearing aids available today have amazing computational power andare able to correct for various types of hearing loss on a highly individual basis. Simplehearing amplifiers are simply not able to do these types of things.
New features and enhancements related to improving the ability of people to perceivehigher frequency sounds through hearing aids continues to improve. Some excitingdevelopments include the new generation of ultra compact in the ear canal hearing aidswhich provide outstanding results due to their positioning and proximity to the eardrum.In addition, specialized circuitry can even allow people to hear sounds in frequencyregions that are technically “dead”.So while high frequency hearing loss can be a common problem particularly as we agein our noisy world, it does not have to be a permanent disability with the use of properlyfitted and adjusted modern hearing aids.