Our clients often ask us why they seem to have greater difficulty hearing in busy spaces than in other situations. They report that they don’t seem to have any problem hearing people and understanding what they say when they are speaking to them one-on-one, or even in small groups. But in a crowd, such as a noisy party or in large public gatherings, suddenly it becomes difficult to understand what the person speaking to them is saying, or to distinguish the speaker’s voice from the background sounds. People who complain of this also often mention having trouble hearing the consonants “F,” “S,” and “H,” no longer being able to distinguish one from the other.

If these challenges sounds familiar to you, it is possible that you have a degree of hearing loss in the high-frequency range. When describing human speech, hearing instrument specialists define the 3000 to 8000 Hz range as high-frequency. This is the range that the H, F, and S sounds typically fall into. In a crowd, what you hear is a mixture of frequencies, with the high frequencies of human speech “competing” with lower-frequency sounds such as music or the noise of people walking or dancing. Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss will report that the low-frequency sounds are much louder to them. To them it is as if the ‘background noise’ has been amplified relative to the human speech they are trying to focus on.

High-frequency hearing loss is common, afflicting at least 18 percent of the population. The most common cause of this is aging, but in recent years hearing instrument specialists have found increasing numbers of teenagers and young adults suffering from it, possibly as a result of listening to overly loud music. High-frequency hearing loss can also be the result of diabetes, a side affect of certain prescription drugs or genetic factors.

The important thing to remember is that if you have suffered some degree of high-frequency hearing loss, it can be effectively treated. Modern hearing aids can be tuned to amplify certain frequencies while suppressing others. This makes it possible to adjust a hearing aid specifically for high-frequency hearing loss and better hearing in crowds.

The first step is to visit one of our specialists, and make sure that the problem is caused by a loss of hearing. There are other causes for this, and our specialists can perform tests to determine whether the cause in your case really is hearing loss, and if so, treat it.

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