High frequency hearing loss, sometimes referred to as high-pitch hearing loss, is one of the more common types of hearing loss. The definition of high-frequency hearing loss provided by Mosby’s Medical Dictionary is a “loss of ability to hear high-frequency sounds, most commonly associated with aging or noise exposure.”
Sounds that are considered high-frequency are generally 2,000 hZ or higher. Many elements of human speech fall into the high-frequency range, particularly consonants or hissing sounds such as “f”, “s” and “sh”. Mis-hearing these consonants can cause someone to misunderstand an entire word, making it difficult to understand elements of speech.
High-frequency hearing loss is more commonly seen in adults over the age of 65. However, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey noted that high-frequency hearing loss in those aged between 20 - 29 has been on the rise. Today, we’re exploring the causes behind this increase.
What Is High-Frequency Hearing Loss?
High-frequency hearing loss involves difficulty hearing sounds between the ranges of 2,000 - 8,000 hZ. Progressing over time, this type of hearing-loss may go unnoticed for a prolonged period. Alongside having difficulty hearing certain speech elements, someone suffering with high-frequency hearing loss will struggle to hear everyday sounds like a doorbell, phone ringing or even an alarm clock.
Causes Of High Frequency Hearing Loss
High frequency hearing loss is typically a sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the inner ear nerve damage prevents sound information from reaching the brain.
There are multiple causes for this type of hearing loss. The two most common causes are aging, or exposure to dangerous noise levels (Noise Induced Hearing Loss - NIHL). It may also be caused by disease, infection or genetic predisposition.
Why Is High Frequency Hearing Loss On The Rise?
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004 noted that “In 2003-2004, 16.1% of US adults (29 million Americans) had speech-frequency hearing loss. In the youngest age group (20-29 years), 8.5% exhibited hearing loss, and the prevalence seems to be growing among this age group. Odds of hearing loss were 5.5-fold higher in men vs women and 70% lower in black subjects vs white subjects. Increases in hearing loss prevalence occurred earlier among participants with smoking, noise exposure, and cardiovascular risks.”
Within the younger demographics, the common cause of high-frequency hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. From prolonged exposure to loud music with the use of headphones, to rock concerts, to on the job exposure such as those working in the construction field, noise is damaging the hearing in younger adults.
If you suspect that you may have high frequency hearing loss, we recommend booking in a hearing assessment. The hearing professionals at Hearing, Balance and Speech Center will test your hearing ability in the ranges of 250 Hz – 8000 Hz. Regular hearing assessments are the best way to help prevent high-frequency hearing loss, and the sooner it’s detected, the more likely that treatment will be successful. To book an assessment, call us on 1-800-HEAR-IT-1 or click here to request an appointment online.
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