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High-Frequency Hearing Loss: Know the Symptoms and Treatment

ear diagram superimposed on man's head

One of the common types of hearing loss is high-frequency hearing loss. High-frequency hearing loss is where hearing high-pitched noises are more difficult. Any age group can experience this type of hearing loss. 

This type of hearing loss is caused by the small sensory hearing cells in the inner ear being damaged. Usually, when an incoming sound happens, they will bend in response and they convert sound waves into the electrical impulses that our brains interpret as sound. 

When these tiny cells, called stereocilia, are damaged, they don’t work as normal. 

What Are the Symptoms of High-Frequency Hearing Loss? 

There are some common symptoms that you can look out for regarding high-frequency hearing loss: 

  • You may find it difficult to hear those with higher-pitched voices like young children and women.
  • You might not be able to hear beeping, birds and other high-pitched noises.
  • You may be able to know that people are talking but be unable to understand the words.
  • Some consonants may get lost; for example, t, th, f and s may be lost since that is higher in pitch or softer in many accents.
  • Conversations that happen simultaneously while the TV or other noise is happening can be more difficult to interpret.

What Are the Causes of High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

Several factors can impact high-frequency hearing loss: 

  • Medications: There are certain prescription medications that, although essential, are considered ototoxic and can be a factor in high-frequency hearing loss.
  • Sound exposure: Even a single loud noise above 85 decibels can cause high-frequency hearing loss.
  • Illness: Meniere’s disease is one of the known causes of tinnitus, high-frequency hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo and fluctuations in hearing. 
  • Genetics: You might have a history of hearing loss in your family, and this can increase your chances.
  • Age: Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis is usually difficult for the individual to notice, but those around them will. 

Can You Prevent High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

It is important to protect your hearing; you practice good hearing health hygiene. Here are some of the ways you can protect your hearing:

  • Wearing hearing protection when in loud environments, earmuffs, earplugs and taking regular breaks is essential. 
  • When using headphones or earbuds, keep the volume to no more than 60% for up to 60 minutes at a time. Take regular breaks. Where possible, use headphones rather than earbuds, as earbuds play the music closer to the eardrum. 
  • Give your ears around 16 hours of quiet after being in a loud environment. 
  • Get regular hearing checkups.

How is High-Frequency Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

Most often, people will make an appointment with their regular doctor. After an examination, your doctor may recommend that you visit a hearing instrument specialist. Hearing loss at frequencies between 2,000 and 8,000 hertz is common in people with high-frequency hearing loss. An individual could have mild, moderate, severe or profound high-frequency hearing loss.

Are There Health Risks Associated with High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

Like many types of hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss worsens over time. When left untreated for a prolonged time, the high-frequency hearing loss will progress to profound. The most common consequence of hearing loss is the inability to communicate effectively with those around you, and over time this can impact confidence levels. Older adults can experience depression, isolation, anxiety and memory loss. 

Children who have high-frequency hearing loss will often have language development and speech development difficulties. 

What Are the Treatment Options for High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

High-frequency hearing loss is most often irreversible, so resting the ear or other medications is unlikely to work. Hearing aids are the best option for high-frequency hearing loss. There are many different types of hearing loss, and your hearing instrument specialist will be able to recommend the right one for you. 

Most often for high-frequency hearing loss are receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid. This type of hearing aid has an open canal fitting, which means it doesn’t muffle the low-frequency sounds that you can hear naturally. They will specifically be programmed to meet your needs by only amplifying high-frequency sounds. 

You will be able to get a hearing aid that is perfect for your requirements, and it will be fitted snugly to your ear. Even if you have never worn a hearing aid before, you will quickly become used to them and enjoy your new level of hearing. 

Take control of your hearing with Better Hearing of Madison County and give us a call at (315) 693-3637 to learn more!