October 1st, 2014 | Ask an Audiologist | by Tracy Saunders

Ask an Audiologist – High Frequency Sound

Many times we hear people complain of a high pitched or high frequency sound ringing or beeping in their ears. One mother asks Hearing Solutions Audiologist and Trainer, Tracy Saunders, about how to manage the effects of exposure to high frequency sound from an external source. If you have a hearing health related question that you would like answered by an experienced professional email us at askaudiologist@hearingsolutions.ca.


Ask An Audiologist…

Good morning. Twelve months ago my 22 year-old daughter developed acute vertigo and was diagnosed with acute vestibular neuritis. She underwent several months of therapy with a specialist.

Her symptoms subsided enough that she can now live fairly symptom-free, but she still experiences dizziness, which she periodically tries to control with prescription meds that our family doctor gave her called Serc. Last evening she was exposed to several pulses of high frequency sound from an anti-dog barking product.

We purchased the Sunbeam Ultrasonic Egg Dog Barking Control device yesterday, Sunday September 28, 2014. We had turned the device on to control our dog’s barking and the sounds were heard clearly by my daughter and they were sharp and accute sounds to her. No one else in the house heard these sounds.

Should I have her seen my an audiologist in light of her vertigo history? I am concerned that something else might be lingering with her ears and I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Audiologist Response…

Hi,

Thank you for your question online.

I’m sorry to hear what your daughter has been through. That must have been a difficult time for the whole family. That’s great that she seems to be feeling better these days!

I would not worry about her being able to hear that high pitched sound. To be honest, it’s actually a good thing! It means that her hearing is quite good in the high frequencies.

High frequency hearing is very helpful in our ability to hear certain consonants of speech (s, sh, th, etc.). A person who has lost their high frequency hearing, misses the consonants, and therefore feels that people are mumbling. In fact, people are not mumbling, but it just sounds that way due to the hearing loss!

As humans, we start out hearing frequencies from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. As we age (or get exposed to loud noises), our ability to hear high frequencies decreases.

We would expect that an 8 year-old would have better high frequency hearing than a 22 year-old, and in turn, a 22 year-old would have better high frequency hearing than their parents.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Best regards,

Tracy Saunders, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO

Tracy Saunders is a registered Audiologist with the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario. She holds a Master’s Degree in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario and an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto. Tracy is currently working as an audiologist and trainer at Hearing Solutions.

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