Can You Hear but Not Quite Understand?
You can hear, but it sounds a little “blurry” and you can’t quite understand what those around you are saying. Conversations are strained and you know that your loved ones are getting frustrated each time they try to communicate with you, even about the simplest things. But you know they’re talking, so you don’t have hearing loss, right?
Or, you could have hearing aids already and have found yourself lacking the clarity that you’ve been used to. What is it all about? Is it you or your hearing aids that are having the problem? What can you do to solve the problem?
Well, this is one of the main complaints that hearing specialists hear from their new patients every day. It could be due to hearing loss or hearing aid equipment just not being adjusted correctly. Let’s take a look at what could be the culprit for you.
When you lose your hearing, it’s not just all about the ears, it can also be about the brain not quite translating sounds into meaningful words. Depending on the person, hearing loss comes in all different levels and degrees. For some, it can be very bothersome and for others, not even something they would consider seeing a doctor for.
High-Frequency Hearing Loss
When you have a hearing test, your results are plotted on an audiogram. If you have high-frequency hearing loss, you are able to hear low-pitched sounds just fine. Higher pitch sounds though, have to be quite a bit louder for you to hear them. You may think it’s strange that you can hear your husband or son just fine when they speak but you have a really difficult time understanding what your daughter is saying. Other signs of high-frequency hearing loss can include:
- Having a hard time understanding conversation in noisy environments
- Even when the sound is turned up on the T.V., you continue to have problems understanding what is being said.
- Children’s voices are harder to understand because of their higher pitch sound
- Talking on the phone is hard to do
- You find yourself feeling exhausted from the effort it takes to listen and understand words
Also, did you know that vowel sounds (A,E,I,O and U) are considered low pitch and consonants are usually considered high pitch sounds? While it’s good to be able to hear those vowel sounds, when you have high-frequency hearing loss, you can often confuse words because you can’t quite make out those high pitch sounds. When you’re not able to hear the small differences of consonants, it can really be hard to discern the differences, for example: “parrot’ and “ferret” or “show” and “throw”. This high pitch hearing loss is often the cause of someone complaining about hearing, but not understanding.
Causes of High-Frequency Hearing Loss
There are many possible causes of high-frequency hearing loss like:
It’s important to talk to a hearing specialist to make sure that high-frequency hearing loss is what you have as well as to find out what is causing it. Highly trained professionals are there to help you not only determine what the problem is but what treatment is best for you and your unique situation. Hearing aids often work very well for high pitched hearing loss, but your audiologist will consider things like your lifestyle, budget and your personal ideas into account before treatment.
Hearing Aid Issues?
If you’re wondering if your lack of understanding a conversation could be due to your hearing aids, it is definitely worth looking into. The problem could simply be that it is not adjusted correctly for you. Sometimes the smallest adjustments can make a big difference in your ability to hear properly.
Not being able to understand words clearly can also be due to loud background noises. It is frustrating but it can be one of the biggest challenges with hearing loss and the use of hearing aids. Talk to your audiologist about this and see if there is anything they can do to help make this more manageable.
Hearing Loss or Lack of Understanding?
If you have taken a hearing test and was told that you don’t have hearing loss, don’t stop trying to find out answers. Even though your hearing may be fine, there may be auditory nerve issues or your brain itself could be having problems managing words or sounds. This can be caused by auditory processing disorders (APD) or something like attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Don’t let someone tell you that things are just fine when you know that something is not quite right. You know your body better than anyone and know when something’s up. Seek additional help to understand what is going on so you can begin to treat your lack of understanding instead of struggling with it day to day.
Unfortunately, our auditory processing competences tend to decline with age. When sound passes through our ears, the brain then deciphers what those sounds mean. This is a very complex process that involves rapid firing of signals between different parts of the brain. Add in hearing loss, unwanted noises, difficult environments and more and no wonder it may be difficult to understand some words as we get older!
Don’t Give Up!
Although not being able to hear clearly can be a really tough and sometimes an embarrassing problem to deal with, there is hope and you’re definitely not alone. Make sure that talk to your doctor and hearing specialist about the problems you’re having. This is the kind of thing they are used to addressing every day and they are there to help you get to the root of the problem. These specialists can make simple adjustments to your hearing aids, use rehabilitative therapies and help you set realistic expectations. There is much that can be improved upon for the majority of patients.
To find out more about what could be causing your hearing clarity, contact our team at Fairfax Hearing Center to schedule a hearing test and appointment today.