Despite the profound advancements of hearing aid technology, wearers may find they still have problems understanding words while wearing them.
Although properly fitting hearing aids often greatly help the word comprehension deficit, there are certain words or reasons why understanding what you’re hearing is difficult.
There are three types of hearing loss: sensorineural (issue in the inner ear and/or beyond), conductive (issue in the middle ear bones and ear drum) and mixed (combination of the two).
Individuals with sensorineural hearing loss tend to treat the issue with hearing aids, as there is no medical treatment for the issue. While the devices can help, they don’t actually treat the loss – rather, they amplify sounds in the environment and send them through a faulty hearing/comprehension system.
High and Low, Soft and Loud
Hearing test results are shown on an audiogram, which tracks what sounds you can hear in terms of volume (dB) and pitch (Hz). Those who can hear low-pitched sounds below 1,000 Hz very well but need high-pitched sounds (over 1,000 Hz) to be louder in order to hear them have high-frequency hearing loss – often the cause of being able to hear but not understand words.
Vowel sounds (A, E, I, O and U) are low in pitch, while consonant sounds such as S, V, K, P, F, Th and Sh are high-pitched noises. It’s these consonants that help you distinguish words from each other, but if you can’t hear them properly at normal conversation levels, it may be difficult to understand words.
For example, it may be easier to hear “that” than “this;” “flavor” than “taste;” and “home” than “house.” If you have a family member with hearing loss, try seeing if they can better understand these words.