Hearing loss

Limited hearing …

… occurs in people of any age, children and adolescents are equally affected as adults and pensioners. According to the criteria of the WHO, hearing loss afflicts 16 percent of the adult population in Germany. Above the age of 70, the likelihood of a hearing loss totals even 50 percent1).

Hearing loss may be caused by manifold factors. In most cases, hearing loss is insidious and is not perceived initially. Some afflicted persons repress the problem, thus ignoring the progressing decline of their auditory ability.

There is evidence that untreated hearing loss can accelerate the cognitive decline, encourage depression, and increase the risk of falling. The sooner a hearing loss is detected, the sooner can it be medically cared for and an underlying disease can be diagnosed and treated.

1) Origin: Gablenz/Holube, 2015

Missing frequencies in conversation

Depending on the cause, nature, and severity of hearing loss, not only the sensitivity of the sound intensity can be affected, but also the perception of certain tone pitches. These are measured as frequencies and indicated in the physical unit hertz.

Healthy ears hear a frequency range up to approximately 16.000 hertz, at most 20.000 hertz. Frequencies above this value don’t trigger any sound sensation in the inner ear. We hear the frequency range between 500 and 6.000 hertz best. This range is exactly consistent with the range of the tone pitches of the human speech.

Those who perceive high tones merely to a limited extend are subject to typical misunderstandings in conversations. Especially breathed consonants with a high noise fraction, such as S, F, and SCH, are confused. Sometimes, this misrepresents the sense of the spoken word significantly.

Examples for the confusions due to hearing loss are, amongst others, “bread” and “red”, “sand” and “hand” as well as “house” and “mouse”.

How to recognize hearing loss:

  • Telephone or door bells are failed to hear more frequently.
  • Sounds that were perceived as disturbing previously are no longer perceived, i. e. the noise level of the PC, the beep of the microwave or the humming of the refrigerator.
  • No reaction to sounds of nature while walking outdoors, such as birdsong or the rustle of leaves in the forest.
  • TV set, radio, and stereo system run louder than usual.
  • Particularly frequent enquiries on the phone.