If you or someone close to you has hearing loss, you’re probably tired of one word in particular – what. “What did you say?” “I can’t understand what you’re saying.” “What was that?” What permeates so many sentences and questions and is so often uttered it almost loses its meaning. It could be asking for a statement to be repeated, used to express incredulity, or even mean the words were heard, but not the meaning. When someone can hear but not understand, the underlying issue is usually hearing loss.
Do I have High-Frequency Hearing Loss?
Answer these questions for yourself:
- Do I have trouble hearing women or children’s voices in particular?
- Is it a challenge to understand what people are saying over the phone or in a restaurant?
- Do I struggle to keep up with conversations because of their pace or volume?
- Does music sound strange to me when the volume increases, like the pitch is off?
If these questions feel familiar, you may have high-frequency hearing loss. This is the type of loss that allows you to hear words or sounds but struggle to comprehend. It’s almost as if the sound travels into your ear, then falls apart before it can reach your brain for comprehension.
Next Steps: Getting an Audiogram
The first step in discovering any underlying hearing loss is taking a hearing test to receive your audiogram. This is sort of like an eye prescription for your glasses; hearing aids are tailored to you based on your audiogram. During your hearing test, you will hear a series of beeps channeled into one ear or the other, or both. The resulting audiogram shows if your ears are on par with each other, if one ear hears better than the other, which frequency of sounds you can hear, and what volumes your ear picked up.
For those who experience hearing loss as a result of the normal aging process, hearing loss is generally symmetrical. If this is the case, your doctor may be more interested in which frequencies you hear and at what volume. Frequencies are measured in either decibels or hertz. Think about Morgan Freeman’s deep voice—this is a low frequency. Now, think about a baby bird chirping out your window—this is a high frequency. Your audiogram will show low-frequency loss, or, more commonly, high-frequency loss.
Word Recognition Score
Another part of the hearing test is the speech reception threshold test. This is when an audiologist says words at varying volumes and you repeat them back. Since your brain processes words in a separate location from the hearing process, there is often a disconnect for those with hearing loss. The longer you go without treating hearing loss, the worse the brain atrophies, and the worse your score will be. Don’t be afraid to get tested for an audiogram and start wearing hearing aids!
Hearing Tests During COVID-19
For those who are nervous to travel to the audiologist during COVID-19, Audicus has a free online hearing test. The best part of using this 15-minute test is that results can automatically transfer to a hearing professional at Audicus who can send you a pair of hearing aids in the mail. No need to go to the doctor until you feel safe!