A High Frequency Hearing Loss is the inability of the ear to hear sounds and speech or sound in the high frequency range. These frequencies are typically above 2000 Hertz. This type of loss is known as High Frequency Hearing Loss. It is also referred as high pitch hearing loss, it mostly affects the elderly population. To understand high frequency sensorineural hearing loss, its symptoms and causes better, we should know a little about the ability and the functioning of our ear to hear frequencies.
What Is The Normal Human Ear Frequency Range?
A newborn child can hear frequencies from 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz. This range becomes narrow as we age. More than ageing, the damage to our ears by loud noise and music causes high pitch Hearing Loss. Musical instruments, bells and chimes produce high frequencies. Whereas the normal male and female conversational Speech frequencies are between 125 Hertz and 8000 Hertz.
What Are The Symptoms of High Frequency Hearing Loss?
Missing out on consonants like “S”, “H”, “F” or sounds like “SH” (hissing sounds) are a sign of High Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss. All these sounds are in frequencies which are above 2000 Hertz. High pitch Hearing Loss is difficult to detect. It comes on very gradually.
Below are some of the tell-tale signs that indicate the onset of this type of Hearing Loss.
Difficulty In Talking to Women and Children
Typical male speech is below 2000 Hertz. Majority of Women’s and Children’s speech is in the range of 2000 Hertz and above. We do not notice anything amiss in a conversation with a male. However we will have slight difficulty in conversing with women and children. If one stays away from the city surrounded by trees and plants, they will miss the chirping of birds.
Difficulty in Hearing Doorbells and Telephone Ringing
Doorbells and telephone ringers have sharp sounds. It is very common for a person with High Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss to miss out on these sounds.
Missing the High Notes in Music
If you are a regular music listener, you will start noticing that your music is sounding dull. The dullness may not be due to a defective stereo system but your inability to hear the high pitch musical notes. Musical instruments like the drum cymbals, snares and synthesisers produce frequencies in the range of 14000 Hertz.
This video will help to understand the effects of High Pitch Hearing Loss on our hearing.
Missing Conversation in a Noisy Place
If you are in a group of people at a Restaurant or a noisy place, you will miss out on a few words in the conversation. Background noise and our inability to hear sharp sounds make it difficult for us to follow conversations.
Children Are Unable To Understand Teachers in the Classroom
If your child complains that the teacher’s speech is not clear and he or she is unable to hear clearly. As a precaution, consult an Audiologist and have the ears tested. Though it is rare but children are also known to suffer from High Frequency Hearing loss.
What are the Causes of High frequency Hearing Loss?
There are five main causes of High Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss.
Ageing or Hearing Loss Due to Old Age
Old age is the most significant cause of High Frequency Hearing loss, our organs grow old and become less efficient over the years. Age related hearing loss frequencies are generally above 2000 Hz, the ear parts like the Hair Cells in the Inner Ear or the Cochlea become less sensitive to sound above these frequencies. There are many other reasons for the reduction in our Hearing efficiency.
Loud Noise or Noise Pollution
We are regularly exposed to loud sounds. The noise from traffic and construction activity contributes to the increasing noise pollution. Constant exposure to loud sounds can affect our Hearing. Listening to loud music through Headphones can also have a negative effect on Hearing. Due to the physical location of the Hair cells in the Cochlea, the Hair cells responsible for the High Frequencies get affected much before the Hair Cells for Low and Middle frequencies.
Ototoxicity or Damage Due to Medication
Ototoxicity means a substance that is toxic (poisonous) to the Ears (Oto – Ear in Greek) Some medicines are Ototoxic and cause damage to the delicate hair cells. In some instances, medicines are necessary as they could be life-saving. Sensorineural Hearing Loss is the price one has to pay for a larger cause. Hearing Loss due to Ototoxicity can be permanent or temporary depending on the line of treatment.
Avoid Self-medication. Excessive use of simple OTC (Over the Counter) medicines like Aspirin can also cause Ototoxicity.
High Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss due to Unrelated Diseases
Certain diseases, not necessarily associated with the ear can be the cause of Sensorineural Hearing Loss. In Children, diseases like chronic Otitis Media or repeated Ear infection, Mumps, meningitis and Measles are the common causes of High Frequency Hearing Loss.
High Pitch Hearing Loss Due to Genetics
In case you find symptoms of High Pitch Hearing Loss, do check your family history. In case your family has a history of Sensorineural Hearing Loss, the chances are that you are genetically predisposed to Hearing Loss. Over 35% of the cases are due to genetic Hearing Loss. A Periodic Audiometric check is recommended for early detection.
Remedies for HF Hearing Loss
High Frequency Hearing Loss is basically a Sensorineural Hearing Loss. As on date, there is no cure. The Human Ear cannot regenerate the delicate Hair cells. However, all hope is not lost. Pharma Companies entirely devoted to Hair Cell regeneration have made encouraging progress. Some Companies are conducting human trials which have shown positive results. It will not be long before Hair Cell regeneration cure is as simple as popping a pill.
What is the Best Remedy for High Pitch Hearing Loss?
As on date, Hearing Aids remain the best and affordable remedy for High Frequency Hearing Loss. Manufacturers of digital Hearing aids can offer Hearing aids which specifically address High Frequency Hearing Loss.
Small In the Ear Hearing aids with a Vent reduce the low frequency output and enhance the high frequencies. A vent is a small opening which allows the low frequencies to exit so it does not cause occlusion or interfere with the high frequencies. The only limitation is the size of the ear canal. Venting might not be possible if the ear canal is too narrow. This limitation varies from one manufacturer to another depending on the size of their product.
Open Fit Behind the Ear Digital Hearing aids are specially designed for High Frequency Hearing loss. The Ear tip or Dome which fits into the ear has scientifically designed perforations. The perforation allows the low frequencies to exit similar to the venting concept in the In The Ear Hearing aids.
An RIC/RITE (Receiver in the Canal/Receiver in the Ear) Hearing aid is also suitable for High Frequency Hearing loss. Venting is done to enhance High frequencies. Regular BTE’s are also used with a vented ear mould.
Scientists and Pharma Companies are continually working to find solutions for Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Gene Therapy and Stem Cell technology are the other areas of scientific research.
The software Programmable Digital Hearing aids can address the individual needs of the user. We should recognise the symptoms early and seek medical help to avoid progression of Hearing loss. Keep yourself updated by reading our blog regularly. Subscribe for the Newsletter to get the latest in your inbox.