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High-frequency hearing loss

Old woman with low-frequency hearing loss

What is high-frequency hearing loss?

Birds chirping, children’s voices, consonants like “f” and “s”—these are all sounds you may be missing out on if you’re struggling with high-frequency hearing loss. 

When people first begin struggling with their hearing, it’s usually high-pitched sounds that go first. This is called high-frequency hearing loss. High-frequency hearing loss is detected with a hearing test. Your results are plotted on an audiogram—a graph that tracks the pitches you hear. Sound frequency is measured in hertz (Hz), with higher numbers indicating higher-pitched sounds.

When it comes to high-frequency hearing loss, an audiogram will show a downward slope to the right, indicating you’re unable to hear high-pitched sounds. For example, someone with typical high-frequency hearing loss will see a drop between 2,000–8,000 Hz on their audiogram.

What are the symptoms of high-frequency hearing loss?

What does high-frequency hearing loss sound like? You may notice difficulty hearing and understanding words that have high-frequency consonants in them, such as “f”, “s,” or “th.” You may also struggle to hear certain notes or instruments in songs, as well as soft or high-pitched voices

What causes high-frequency or other types of hearing loss?

High-frequency and other types of hearing loss causes can be due to a variety of issues, including:

Certain genetic traits may also play a role in making a person prone to hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50–60% of hearing loss in babies is due to genetics. Waardenburg syndrome and Usher syndrome, for example, are two genetic conditions that are associated with hearing loss or deafness.

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is something that happens gradually as people get older, and high-frequency hearing loss is typically an early sign. Although there’s no way to prevent it, protecting yourself from noise-induced hearing loss is one step you can take to avoid worsening or accelerating the loss.

Prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to high-frequency hearing loss. Thankfully, this is something that can be prevented, or at least mitigated. To avoid hearing damage from loud noises, wear hearing protection such as earmuffs or earplugs when you know you’re going to be exposed to loud noise, whether it’s one night at a concert or every day on the job. 

Certain medications may put people at risk of experiencing hearing loss. Ototoxicity is a side effect of some medications that cause damage to the inner ear that results in high-frequency or other types of hearing loss. If you’re affected by ototoxic drugs, you may have symptoms that include trouble hearing, ringing in one or both ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. Currently, there are over 200 medicines that are considered to be ototoxic and could potentially affect your hearing.

You’ve likely had a middle ear infection at some point in your life. These are more common in children than adults, but in the case of some severe middle ear infections, hearing loss, including high-frequency hearing loss, can be a permanent result if you don’t seek treatment. 

An acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous tumor that can develop on the nerve of hearing. These are rare but usually non-life threatening , especially if caught early. If you have an acoustic neuroma, hearing loss, particularly at high frequencies, in one ear is one of the biggest symptoms, along with balance issues.

Meniere’s disease is a condition that usually only affects one ear in people between the ages of 40–60. Meniere's disease causes dizzy spells (vertigo) and hearing loss. If you notice regular dizzy spells, trouble hearing, or feeling like your ear is plugged, it may be time to see your doctor.
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If you or your loved one is experiencing difficulties in hearing, visit us for a free hearing test.

Diagnosing high-frequency hearing loss

If you are struggling with your hearing, you should schedule a Miracle-Ear appointment to take a hearing loss test. As noted above, audiogram results will show where your high-frequency hearing loss begins and the degree to which it drops off, giving you a clear picture of where you struggle and where there are opportunities to improve your hearing.

Treating high-frequency hearing loss

Because the damage that causes high-frequency hearing loss is often irreversible, there are limited options for treating it. If the loss is associated with an underlying medical condition, that should be addressed first. Otherwise, hearing aids can help. Miracle-Ear carries hearing aids for high-frequency hearing loss in a wide variety of styles and models.

Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids are a good choice for those struggling with high-frequency sounds, because of the open design of the earpiece. The design prevents the muffling of low-frequency sounds (occlusion effect) while the programming amplifies the high-frequency sounds you might otherwise miss.  

If you’re struggling with hearing loss, different therapy options may help, such as speech therapy which can help you learn to better communicate and understand what others are saying.

High-frequency hearing loss can also be treated with some lifestyle changes. These include using ear protection when being exposed to loud noises and eating a healthier diet that’s high in vegetables, fruits and healthy proteins.
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Wait no longer

If you experience any off the possible signs of mixed hearing loss, be sure to schedule a free hearing exam with a Miracle-Ear hearing specialist.

Preventing high-frequency hearing loss

When it comes to high-frequency hearing loss prevention, two of the most important things you can do are:

  • Wear hearing protection like earplugs in noisy environments
  • Avoid frequent exposure to loud noise (e.g. listening to earbuds at high volumes)

High-frequency hearing loss and tinnitus

Often, people who have tinnitus struggle with some degree of hearing loss—and it’s more common for that loss to be in the high-frequency range. Hearing aids are often recommended for people with hearing loss and tinnitus to both support your hearing and distract from the ringing in your ears. 

HCP at store

High-frequency hearing loss assessment

Through a free hearing test at your local Miracle-Ear, a hearing care professional can help you discover if you have high-frequency hearing loss, or any other type of hearing loss. If hearing aids are right for your situation, they can help you find the right model to meet your needs. Book your appointment at a Miracle-Ear hearing aid center today.

FAQs on high-frequency hearing loss

With high-frequency hearing loss, you’ll likely be able to hear low-to-medium pitches with ease but struggle to hear sounds that are high-pitched or soft. This can result in difficulty understanding speech or enjoying music. Watch our hearing loss simulation to learn more.

High-frequency hearing loss is not reversible, but hearing aids can help improve your hearing.  

According to the National Council on Aging, 31.1% of Americans age 65 and older and 40.3% of those age 75 and older have hearing loss. High-frequency hearing loss is one of the most common kinds of hearing loss, especially for older people.

Yes—tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss or damaged hearing. However, other things may also cause tinnitus, such as congestion, TMJ, certain medications and more. 

Yes, hearing aids are often used to treat high-frequency hearing loss by helping to balance and amplify the sounds around you. 
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