What does hearing loss sound like?

To some listeners, the words to the National Anthem of Canada make no sense. They wonder why a Canadian lyricist would begin the patriotic song with the words, “Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze.” Sure, everyone knows it gets cold in Canada in the winter, but the country does have some some nice warm days in the summer.But, wait! The song actually says, “Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.” If that is not what you heard, and you heard instead that “we stand on cars and freeze,” you may have a certain type of hearing loss. A hearing loss can result in certain sounds being garbled. Often times, you may hear some frequencies but not others. You may even have a constant or intermittent ringing in your ears, called tinnitus. It is possible that you just don’t hear anything at all.

Types of hearing loss & how they might sound

There are three basic types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive hearing loss: A conductive loss occurs when the sound does not travel appropriately from the outer ear, through the bones of the middle ear, and to the eardrum. There are many causes of this and most can be corrected medically, surgically or with hearing aids. If you suffer from this type of loss, sounds are faint or distant or you may not be able to hear them at all.
  2. Sensorineural hearing loss: This is caused by damage to the nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain. In this type of loss, certain frequencies or pitches cannot be heard. You may hear the vowels but not the consonants, which are higher pitched than the vowels. You can hear that someone is speaking, but you cannot make sense of what they are saying because you do not hear all of the sounds. This is what happens with the Canadian Anthem misinterpretation. The words are not understandable. This is a difficult, or impossible, hearing loss to correct.
  3. Mixed hearing loss: This is a loss that is a combination of conductive and sensory hearing loss.


If you are constantly bombarded with a ringing sound in your ear, or occasionally look around the room to see who just activated the oven timer, you probably have tinnitus. Tinnitus is an absolutely irritating, and in some cases debilitating, condition. The noise can sound like a buzzing, hissing or clicking. The sound may be continuous or intermittent and you may hear the noise in one or both of your ears. Some people are so annoyed by the sound that they cannot concentrate or even work.

Just a few of the possible causes of tinnitus include:

  • Aging. It is more common in people over the age of 60.
  • Build-up of ear wax.
  • Problems with bone growth in the middle ear.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Side effects from some medications.

People who suffer from tinnitus often have trouble sleeping due to the noise. This results in a constant feeling of fatigue, memory problems and depression.

Schedule a hearing test with a professional

A visit to an experienced audiologist will assist you in identifying the type of hearing loss you have. There are several types of hearing tests that can be conducted that can identify the exact type of hearing loss you are experiencing. Discussing any symptoms of tinnitus with your audiologist is also advisable, as there are many tinnitus solutions available.Although hearing aids cannot solve every hearing loss problem, new technology has made incredible advances to help those with hearing loss improve their quality of life. To schedule a hearing test in the Phoenix, AZ area – give our friendly audiologists a call at 602-281-4095. We look forward to hearing from you!

I have been a Phoenix, AZ, Audiologist for over 25 years. Fifteen years ago, I believed that I could make a change in my patient’s lives beyond the hour I spent with them at their appointments.

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Conveniently located near the intersection of 7th Street and Indian School Road.

Southwest Balance, Dizziness & Ear Institute (formerly Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids)

4004 N 7th St.Phoenix, AZ 85014