By Dr. Shannon Frymark, Audiologist
Do you find it harder to hear women’s or children’s voices than men’s? If so, you may be experiencing high-frequency hearing loss, the most common type of hearing loss. Women’s and children’s voices have a higher frequency than men’s (165-255 Hz vs. 85-180 Hz) and are also generally ‘softer’ (lower amplitude), so you may hear them at a different volume than men’s voices.
There are many possible causes for high-frequency hearing loss, among them aging, exposure to loud noises, certain diseases and certain drugs. But due to advances made in hearing aid technology, high-frequency hearing loss can be effectively treated.
Digital hearing aids are an effective treatment option. Their sophisticated electronics allow them to be adjusted or programmed to “favor” one set of frequencies over another. For example, a hearing aid properly adjusted for a person suffering from high-frequency hearing loss would separate those higher-pitched sounds and boost their volume, making them seem louder than lower-pitched sounds. An openfit hearing aid is another option. The open-fit design leaves the ear canal open or partially open, allowing lower frequency sounds to enter the ear normally. The open-fit aid would be set to amplify only the high-pitched sounds. Cochlear implants are a third option. Because they require minor surgery, cochlear implants are a more serious and more expensive option, but they can provide a solution in extreme cases involving industrial deafness or nerve deafness.
No matter which option you ultimately choose, the first step is always the same. Get a comprehensive exam from an audiologist. Some cases of highfrequency hearing loss, for example, turn out to be nothing more than an easily treated buildup of ear wax. If you’re having trouble hearing higher frequencies, stop wondering about the cause and make an appointment to get the true answer.