7 Important Sounds You’re Missing With Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment using hearing aid

Depending on your age, health condition, and other circumstances, the sounds you miss with hearing loss vary by type and frequency. For example, an individual with a specific type of hearing loss might be able to understand conversations but fail to hear smoke detector alarms, potentially putting them at risk.

Understand how hearing loss affects your ability to hear different sounds, seven categories of everyday sounds you can miss, and how hearing aids can help.

Sounds Affected by Hearing Loss

Normal human hearing allows us to perceive a wide range of sounds, typically from 20 Hz for the lowest frequencies to 20,000 Hz for the highest. However, most people rarely hear sounds above 15,000 to 17,000 Hz.

The full range is typically divided into three groups based on how high-pitched or low-pitched (bassy) they sound. Here are a few examples in each category:

  • Low-Frequency (20 to 250 Hz). Bass sounds in music, the sound of rolling thunder, the humming of a refrigerator, the sound of a car engine, and deeper voice tones like alto or baritone.
  • Mid-Frequency (250 to 4,000 Hz). The sounds of general conversation, most musical instruments, a baby crying, running water, telephone ringing, vacuum cleaners, and clapping hands
  • High-Frequency (Over 4,000 Hz). Chirping birds, high-pitched ringtones, the sound of an alarm clock, certain consonants in speech such as “s,” “sh,” “h,” or “t” sounds, glass breaking, and keys jingling.

Type of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can have different causes, each affecting the auditory system in unique ways. Understanding the types of hearing loss—conductive, sensorineural, and mixed—is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

  • Conductive hearing loss. Causes difficulty hearing due to an obstruction or damage in the outer or middle ear. Typically affects the perception of low-frequency sounds.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss. This hearing loss occurs when the inner ear or auditory nerves are damaged or deteriorated due to aging or specific medications. It most commonly affects the perception of mid-frequency sounds.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds, such as working in industrial environments or regularly attending concerts, can damage the cochlea. The most common consequence is reduced ability to hear high-frequency sounds.
  • Genetic factors. Numerous genetic factors can predispose individuals to hearing loss, impacting one or more categories.

7 Everyday Sounds You May Be Missing

The type and severity of your hearing loss can cause you to miss various sounds. Here are some common examples and their potential impact on your life:

1. Alarms and Alerts

When you have hearing loss, you might miss important sounds like alarms and alerts, which can negatively impact your daily life and safety. Many alarms and alerts, such as fire alarms, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors, or medical devices like insulin pumps, are designed to emit sounds at high frequencies.

These devices typically produce between 3,000 and 4,000 Hz to ensure they are attention-grabbing. Missing these high-frequency sounds can put you at serious risk during emergencies, as you might not be alerted to evacuate in time.

2. Everyday Notifications

Sounds designed to grab your attention, such as car horns, alarm clocks, and phone notifications, fall within a range of frequencies (typically between 500 and 3,000 Hz) that can be challenging to detect with hearing loss. Not hearing these sounds can affect your punctuality, potentially leading to issues at work or school.

Socially, missing doorbells or phone notifications can mean you miss visitors, important calls, or messages, contributing to feelings of isolation. You can manage hearing loss with appropriate devices and accommodations, such as vibrating alarms, visual alerts, or hearing aids.

3. Conversations

Most conversations at regular volume fall into the mid-frequency range. While someone with hearing loss may be able to hear most of the conversation, missing specific words and syllables or confusing one word for another can cause issues and misunderstandings.

This can make socializing frustrating, cause social isolation, and result in emotional distress. In workplace settings, missing or misunderstanding important communication can impact your career.

Need a hearing aid

4. Nature Sounds

The sounds of nature have a calming effect that may help manage anxiety and other mood disorders. Numerous studies support the benefits of exposure to natural sounds, which can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

However, most of these sounds fall into the high-frequency range. For instance, birdsongs typically range from 1,000 to 8,000 Hz, with some species reaching up to 10,000 Hz. Unfortunately, this can mean that you cannot enjoy calming sounds like birdsong or leaves rustling without hearing aids.

5. Music

Music encompasses a wide range of sounds and instruments across all frequencies. For instance, low-frequency instruments include bass guitars and tubas. Mid-frequency sounds cover most vocals, strings, and percussions, and high-frequency elements include strings, cymbals, and hi-hats.

Any form of hearing loss can make it harder to appreciate music. While some hearing aids can help, many degrade the original sound quality. For example, cochlear implants and lower-quality digital aids can make the music sound tinny, fuzzy, or distorted.

Switching to analog hearing aids can help you enjoy music again. The amplification process creates a clearer, more natural sound, allowing you to enjoy music just as you used to.

Hearing aid in ear

6. Voices of Loved Ones

While most human voices fall into the medium-frequency category, each person has a distinct vocal tone with its own nuances. Depending on the type or the intensity of your auditory issues, you may have more difficulties hearing or understanding them, especially if you have problems hearing medium-frequency sounds.

Missing certain sounds due to hearing loss can make it difficult to distinguish a loved one’s voice from others, especially if the tones are similar. This can lead to more misunderstandings and negatively affect your relationships.

7. Footsteps

Even a seemingly simple sound like footsteps can be much more difficult to detect with certain forms of hearing loss. Depending on the surface type and hardness, studies have shown that the typical frequency of an adult’s footsteps can range from just over 30 Hz to 1,000 Hz, making them low- to medium-frequency sounds.

Individuals with conductive hearing loss are typically less able to detect the range of sound frequencies that footsteps fall into. This can make it harder to detect an unknown person approaching, potentially increasing the risk to your safety.

Manage Hearing Loss with TrueEQ from Analog Hearing Labs

A digital hearing aid can let you hear as naturally as possible. The TrueEQ by Analog Hearing Labs is an advanced acoustic hearing aid designed by audiologists and ENTs. It delivers 100% natural audio with crystal clarity and natural richness, allowing you to perceive sounds without electronic distortion or loss of quality.

TrueEQ hearing aids use high-quality, medical-grade components sourced from industry-leading suppliers like Sonion and Knowles. The advanced microphones capture sound accurately, while the high-quality receivers deliver it seamlessly to your ears. Unlike many other digital hearing aids on the market, TrueEQ uses audiology-grade transducers, avoiding the substandard parts found in some low-quality products.

Achieving the best sound quality requires a perfect fit. Traditional round domes, commonly used in hearing aids, often cause sound leakage and feedback due to their poor fit in the non-uniform shape of ear canals. TrueEQ addresses this with its patented Aeri Tips, made from high-quality thermoplastic silicone. These tips are tapered like human ear canals and can flexibly adapt, providing a secure seal and all-day comfort.

Shop TrueEQ at Analog Hearing Labs

The wide range of sounds you miss with hearing loss can impact your life in many ways, from social and interpersonal relationships to increasing safety risks. But with the right hearing aids, you can regain some of the sounds you’ve lost and improve your quality of life.

Contact us to learn more about the TrueEQ hearing aid and how it can help you appreciate the full spectrum of audio frequencies again.

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