What? What?-Hearing Loss and High Frequencies
Okay, so we’ve spent years and years in front of microphones and wearing headphones. We like to listen to music loud in the car, at home, at the gym and at concerts. You mow the grass without earmuffs, vacuum without earplugs and probably don’t cover your ears with every train that whistles down the track. The problem is that after years of abusing our hearing, we’re often startled to discover that our hearing just ain’t what it used to be.
I made an appointment recently with an audiologist for a hearing test, followed by an appointment with my ENT. When asked if I had hearing loss, I told the scheduler that yes, I thought so, otherwise, everyone around me was mumbling. Hmm, it happily turned out to be a little bit of both.
I discovered that my hearing is better than average for my age and could only be helped by wearing a hearing aid to get my ears used to hearing high frequencies again. The audiologist speculated it would drive me nuts. When I found out that the frequency that most of us lose first is between 4-8 kHz, I began to wonder if I could re-train my ears at home listening to those tones with headphones. The docs explained to me that while the little hairs that receive the signal are permanently damaged, the nerve that carries the message to the brain is fine. It does begin to “forget” how to hear those frequencies though, if we don’t force it to exercise. So, while wearing a hearing aid to “wake up” the nerve is unappealing, I figure my at-home experiment is worth a shot. I will post about progress when I begin and then when I have the follow-up test in 6 months, we may have an answer.
Bottom line, once the hairs are damaged, they’re not fix-able (at least in today‘s medical arena), but we can exercise the nerve and prevent further damage to the other little hairs. But, let’s face it, there’s nothing more fun than being on a road trip with the sunroof back, the open road ahead and the music going full-blast! What’s that you say? Oh, I couldn’t hear you.