Why Can I Hear But Not Understand Words?
This is a common concern for millions of individuals who suffer from hearing loss. The most common form of hearing loss that causes this inability to understand words is presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss.
To understand why this is happening, we must first understand the frequencies of hearing. Humans can hear frequencies from around 20 to 20,000 hertz (Hz). However, most of human speech falls within a certain range – what we call the speech banana. The speech banana ranges from around 150 to 5,000 Hz. The lower range of these frequencies accounts for the volume behind speech, and the higher range accounts for the clarity behind speech.
Presbycusis often causes individuals to miss high-frequency sounds, therefore giving them the ability to hear but not understand.
Many people who have lost the ability to hear high-frequency sounds deny that they have a hearing loss. After all, they usually still have some good hearing in the lower frequencies, meaning the volume of sound hasn’t decreased. But are you hearing well if you can’t understand what is being said?
The good news is, when aided properly with well-programmed hearing aids, you can re-incorporate high-frequency sounds while still using your good low-frequency hearing. This will return the clarity to speech and help you not only hear words that are being said but also understand them.
Have any other questions about your hearing loss and treatment options? Please contact Arizona Hearing Center by phone at 602.313.1243 or by email at [email protected]