Why do I only have difficulty hearing in crowds?

Very often patients will report that they seem to only have difficulty hearing in crowds. Communicating one on one or in small groups is fine, but in noisy restaurants or large gatherings it is difficult to separate the speaker from the background noise. If you are experiencing this, it is possible that you may have some type of high-frequency hearing loss. High frequency hearing losses make it difficult to distinguish certain consonant sounds, such as f, th, s, and h. When you are in a crowd those soft speech sounds are competing with the lower frequency sounds which are present in background noise. As a result, a person will report that they hear the background chatter much louder than the person they are trying to have a conversation with. The good news is that if you are diagnosed with a high frequency hearing loss it can be easily treated with the use of hearing devices. Hearing devices can be programmed to only amplify certain frequencies while suppressing others, making hearing in crowds much less problematic.

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