Understanding High-Frequency Hearing Loss

High-frequency sounds, such as a child's voice or a doorbell, cannot be heard completely clearly or accurately by a person with high-frequency hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when part of the cochlea, located in your inner ear, is damaged. Tiny cells in the lower part of the cochlea are responsible for transferring high-frequency sounds to your brain for processing. If it's only the lower part of the cochlea that's damaged, you'll be able to hear all other sounds. High-frequency hearing loss can develop gradually or occur suddenly. Here's an explanation of the causes and treatment options:


High-frequency hearing loss can be caused by age-related wear to your ears, but it's not limited to this. Exposure to loud noise, particularly over a prolonged period of time, can also damage the sensitive cells of the cochlea. So, if you work in a noisy environment, always protect your ears with earphones or earplugs. This type of hearing loss can also be caused by an untreated ear infection, as the virus that caused the infection can erode the cells in the cochlea over time.

Treatment Options

High-frequency hearing loss can't be cured, as the cells of the cochlea can't currently be repaired. However, sufferers are able to use hearing aids or a cochlear implant to improve how they hear high-frequency sounds. The best approach for you will be determined by the results of your hearing test, which can show the extent of damage to your cochlea.

In addition to amplifying sounds, digital hearing aids can be programmed to alter the frequency of sounds as they travel through your ear canal. They can convert high-frequency sounds to lower frequencies, and the sounds are then processed by an undamaged part of the cochlea. You can try on different types of hearing aids at your audiologist's office until you find a model you're happy with. Your hearing nurse can show you a variety of hearing aid accessories, such as sport clips to hold your hearing aids in place during high-impact exercise and sleeves to protect them from dirt and moisture, which will enable you to continue enjoying any sports or hobbies you currently do.

A cochlear implant bypasses your ear altogether, so it's often recommended if there's additional damage to your cochlea. The implant has an external microphone and a receiver that's placed on your temporal bone. The receiver does the job of the cells in your cochlea and transmits sound to your brain for processing.

If you're concerned about the quality of your hearing, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible.