It’s all about what sounds you do hear and what sounds are missing. If, you are suffering from an across, or flat hearing loss, all sounds will seem duller, or softer and often this is the easiest loss to correct, as all we need to do is to bring all of those sounds back into the audible range in order for the patient to get good results.
However, if you’re like most hard of hearing persons, your hearing loss isn’t flat, it’s sloping with some sounds, generally the lower frequency ones coming through stronger than those in the higher frequencies. When this happens, this person may begin to experience serious difficulties that only show up in the presence of background noise. What they experience then can be quite different that a normal hearing person.
As, those background sounds get louder, they begin to mask, or cover up the higher frequency sounds of speech associated with the consonant sounds. When this happens, they can hear the vowels, as they are normally pitched a little lower in frequency and have more energy to start with, but those softer sounds just get covered up.
The experience for the hard of hearing is one where they can indeed hear, but as the loss gets greater, what they hear, doesn’t have enough information to be processed by the brain into meaningful speech. To these folks, it sounds like people are mumbling, or not enunciating clearly.
If, you would like to hear what that sounds like to a normal hearing person, click on the link and visit the NPR article and hear for yourself what happens when certain sounds begin to be extracted out of the sound environment, or what happens when background sounds begin to mask out those softer sounds of speech.
Thanks NPR, for the great series of articles, as well as some very useful sound recordings that help to bring this matter into clearer focus for those who still have normal hearing, but have to deal with a loved one, or significant other who suffers from a hearing loss.
If, you are one of the folks who experience these problems, get help. There are several long term and comprehensive studies that show that not only does an uncorrected hearing loss effect the everyday quality of your life, if left uncorrected can actually lead to the shrinkage of the size of your brain. This can lead to not only difficulty hearing, but compromises in other higher function brain activities dealing with reasoning and problem solving.
A brain is a terrible thing to waste, especially if it is yours. If, you have a hearing loss of any significance, get help. If, you don’t know who to call, call or write us, regardless of where in the country you live. We’ll be happy to use our contacts to find someone in your area who can give you the assessment and help you need to keep those auditory centers stimulated and keep you in touch with the people and ideas that make life worth living.