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A Guide to Low Frequency vs. High Frequency Hearing Loss

 3 min read

Guide to Low Frequency vs. High Frequency Hearing Loss

It’s a common misconception that people living with hearing loss all have the same problem - they can’t hear. Period. But it’s not that simple. Sometimes people can’t hear in certain environments, like loud rooms. And sometimes, they just have trouble hearing certain noises, and words from certain people, like children. But this is something that is immensely common! Around 48 million Americans experience hearing loss. Plus, nearly half of those over the age of 75 have trouble hearing. 

low-frequency hearing loss

What Is the Normal Human Hearing Range?

Before defining “normal” hearing, we must understand two key terms – decibels and frequency. Decibels measure sound intensity. The decibels in any given frequency can be high or low. An average human hearing range can typically detect sounds between 0 to 140 decibels. To put this into context, having a normal conversation in an air-conditioned room has a volume of about 60 decibels.

Hearing can be damaged when people have prolonged exposure to things that are too loud. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says  anything above 70 decibels can cause problems over time. 

The other term that factors into hearing is “frequency.” Frequency means how close together sound waves are within a second. Frequency is usually measured in Hertz (Hz).

  • Once most people reach 18, they can still hear anything around 17,400 Hz.
  • By middle age, most people can comfortably hear frequencies around 14,000 Hz.
  • By age 50, it’s hard for most people to hear anything about 12,000 Hz.

Once a person can’t detect sounds less than 7,000-8,000 Hz, that person officially has hearing loss. Our online hearing test can help you identify where you fall within the normal human hearing range or if you fall outside of it. Don’t worry – there is nothing abnormal about you either way. Your needs look different than others, which is okay!

online hearing tests

Low vs. High Frequency Hearing Loss

There are two significant groups of hearing loss. Each has a separate set of causes, symptoms, and treatments. The group a person with hearing loss falls into depends on the types of sounds the person has trouble hearing. Most people with hearing loss either have trouble discerning high frequency sounds or low frequency sounds. 

The majority of people suffer from high frequency hearing loss. This means they can’t detect sounds in the 2,000-8,000 Hz range. When living with  high frequency hearing loss, they can usually follow everyday conversations but will have trouble with certain letters (such as s, h, or f). Words often sound muffled to them, especially over the phone or from a television.

The causes of high frequency hearing loss are usually:

  • Damage from repeated exposure to loud noises
  • Age
  • Side effects from medication
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Ototoxic medications (of which there are over 200 on the market)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

The other type of hearing loss is classified as low frequency. It’s far less common, affecting only about 3,000 people in North America. In low frequency hearing loss, a person can’t hear sounds below 2,000 Hz. 

The causes of low frequency hearing loss are usually:

  • Childhood illnesses 
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Otosclerosis
  • Secretory Otitis Media
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Examples of High and Low Frequency Sounds

High frequency sounds are 2,000 Hz or more.  Examples include:

  • Whistles
  • Screaming
  • Sirens
  • Chirping birds

Low frequency sounds are 500Hz or less. Examples include:

  • Waves
  • Air conditioning units
  • Large fans
  • A garbage truck
high-frequency hearing loss

Treatments for Hearing Loss

For both types of hearing loss, hearing aids are the best solution. Around  28 million American adults could benefit from using hearing aids. But among those over 70 who could benefit from hearing aids,  less than 30% have used them

One study found that lack of comfort and high costs were why people avoided wearing hearing aids. So, here at Soundwave, we have aimed to make our  Sontro® Self-Fitting OTC Hearing Aids both comfortable and affordable! 

When you order Sontro OTC Hearing Aids, you’ll receive an assortment of sizes of hearing aid ear domes. That means you’ll have a wide selection of the best fit for your ears. Soundwave ships all Sontro OTC Hearing Aids with "one-size-fits-most" receivers (speakers). However, if your ear size requires a longer or shorter receiver to help the ear dome and hearing aid receiver stay in place, you can call us, and we’ll help you troubleshoot. 

As for the cost of Sontro OTC Hearing Aids, our FAQ details how you can affordably manage payments out of pocket by working with one of our financial partners. You can also pay using HSA or FSA funds. 

Please feel free to reach out to us in any way you feel comfortable. Please call our customer support line at 833-367-4327 with any questions.  We’ll work with you to find a solution so you can live a better, fuller life.