A HoH’s Guide to Common Sounds

In this week’s edition of What’s That Sound?, we’re talking about sounds we don’t understand, new ones that are weird, startling, and just plain incomprehensible – and that turn out to be common, everyday noises in our lives.

There are about a million causes of hearing loss and hundreds of thousands of them can be helped with some form of amplification and other technology (these numbers are just my rough estimate, based on no research and my tendency to exaggeration). Hearing aids and cochlear implants give us back many sounds, but when we start to use them, our brain needs time to readjust and figure them out, based on the new information it’s getting. 

If you’re a HoH (hard of hearing person/person with hearing loss) like me, you may need some help. If you’re in that adjustment phase – which can last for quite a while – here are some of the common sounds that I’ve managed to figure out ahead of my brain.  (Note: Over a year ago, I received a cochlear implant (CI) and every once in a while I get a new mapping. With each adjustment, I receive new and different, usually higher, frequencies which means more detective work for new sounds.)

 

  1.  Nyuk.  Nyuk.  Nyuk.  Nyuk.  This was the first new sound I heard after the switch-on of my CI. The Hearing Husband (HH) told me it was the kitchen clock ticking. “Can you turn it down?” I asked.

 

  1. Poosh-poosh-poosh-poosh. This is the sweeping sound of a straw broom. I can hear this even when the HH is sweeping off the deck. Outside! With windows and doors closed!

 

  1. Brrp! Brrrp! Brrrrp! This is the microwave timer telling me that something is ready – reheated coffee, defrosting chicken, whatever.

 

  1. No discernable sound. This is what happens when you put eggs on to boil, leave the kitchen and forget about them. Even the best hearing technology doesn’t (yet) let me hear eggs boiling into a burnt mess in the pot when I forget to set the microwave timer.

 

  1. Roarrrrrrrrrrrr! Unfortunately, this can be many things, depending on the tone. A low roar could be a plane flying overhead. It can also be a leaf blower, a device that should be banned and its intrusive noise replaced with the poosh-poosh-poosh of a broom sweeping the leaves out of the way. Better exercise. The roar, in a completely different tone, can be the sound of car – if you hear it coming down your driveway (we have a long one winding one), or if you’re inside the car. A higher whooshy kind of roar is the sound of cars going by really fast. The faster the car goes, the higher and louder its sounds. I hope this makes sense; maybe all this needs to be heard to be believed.

 

  1. Scritch. Scritch. Scritch-scritch-scritch. This confused me for a long time. But I eventually identified it as the cat covering up its ka-ka in the litter box. A comforting sound.

 

  1. PSSHHHH! It’s a bit hard to put this sound into letters, but it’s the high-frequency sound of veggies hitting the hot olive oil in the frying pan. This is easy to identify if you’re the one doing the frying. Since the HH doesn’t do much in the way of cooking, I don’t know if I’d hear this sound from another room.

 

  1. Bmp! This one should be easy: the sound of your 20-lb.cat jumping off the table on to the floor.

 

  1. Bwd-dyu-mpliu-fxi-liddly-blumx. When the TV is on in the other room, but you can’t make out the very low voices in any language, even your own.

 

  1. Niagara Falls. I never knew that a flushed toilet sends water through seemingly every pipe in the house, loudly, for a long time.

 

  1. Niagara Falls Lite: When the water is left running in the sink. While some might find it annoying, I’m grateful that I can now hear it, reducing the risk of flooding the kitchen. (Like I have done a couple of times before.)

 

  1. Harrumph. When the HH does this, I always say pardon, to which he always replies, just clearing my throat. I fall for it every time.

 

  1. Shp, shp, shp, shp. The sound of your feet schlepping across the carpet or floors.

 

  1. Bird sounds. There are too many different sounds to try and recreate here. Wings flapping in the bushes have a honky-wushy quality. My latest CI mapping has given me the peeping of the smallest birds that my hearing aid can’t pick up. Sounds a little lower on the frequency scale are picked up by my hearing aid as the song of birds such as cardinals, robins, gulls and crows; my CI interprets at the same time as beeps, buzzes and shrillness. Now that takes some getting used to!

 

  1. Tinkle-splat, tinkle-splat. Rain on the windshield, roof, your hat.

 

  1. Grwl-up, grllll.  I never knew our tummies are so, uh, expressive in their sounds.

 

If I think of any more common, everyday noises, I’ll include them in the next edition of What’s That Sound. In the meantime, let me know about unusual sounds that you hear. Have a happy hearing day!

 

*featured image courtesy Pixabay

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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Kathi Mestayer

my dryer said “that’s the dress code, that’s the dress code…” over and over to me. Granted, it was right after I’d listened to a segment on NPR about how dress codes are playing out in schools these days. Coincidence?