Because hearing loss often occurs slowly over many years, it can be challenging to detect an impairment in its early stages. However, there are some key identifiers that may indicate a loss of hearing has occurred. One of the first things hearing impaired individuals experience is the inability to hear high frequencies, such as the voices of women and children. Though high-frequency hearing loss is a common occurrence, traditional audiology tests used during hearing aid fittings are less effective for high frequencies. Fortunately, a Europe-based research team has created a new testing process to better address this need.
The new testing method, called a Phoneme Perception Test (PPT), has been created to measure the perception of the specific phonemes “s” and “sh.” A phoneme is described as a distinguishing unit of sound used to differentiate words. This newly-created test has been developed to measure if there is a difference in the recognition of specific phonemes for various settings on hearing aids.
The study used two different sets of stimulus materials to determine how the phoneme was perceived. The first set (LF) preserved low-level sounds in the low- to mid-frequency range; the second set (nLF) limited the audibility to high-frequency sounds.
The study confirmed that there was a marked difference in sound perception between the two sets of stimulus materials. This indicates that detection and recognition thresholds were better measured in high frequencies using the nFL set. Furthermore, both sets should be used to effectively fit hearing aids for high-frequency hearing loss.
Should audiologists use PPT, individuals with a hearing impairment will experience improved audibility and recognition for high-frequency sounds, which will result in greater auditory rehabilitation for the patient.
If you suspect you or a loved one may have some degree of hearing of loss, we encourage you to contact a hearing consultant. By being proactive about your hearing health, you can prevent unwanted consequences of untreated hearing loss—which has been shown to increase risk of depression, anxiety and cognitive decline—from affecting your mental, emotional and social well-being. To find a doctor of audiology in Tucson, contact our team at (520) 399-7630.