Did you know that there are different types of hearing loss? Let’s take a closer look at a rare type known as low-frequency hearing loss, including what sets it apart as well as the best treatment options.
Low-Frequency Hearing Loss Looks Different on Audiogram
People with low-frequency hearing loss struggle with lower-pitched sounds. It is often referred to as reverse-slope hearing loss because of how it shows up on an audiogram. Audiograms are charts or graphs which audiologists use to plot your hearing during a hearing test. People with low-frequency hearing loss will have results that reverse from low to high, whereas most cases of hearing loss go high to low.
Common Sounds That Are Hard for People with Low-Frequency Hearing Loss
Many people with traditional hearing loss struggle to hear higher-pitched sounds like birds chirping or children’s voices. However, people with low-frequency hearing loss might seem quite adept at hearing those noises and instead struggle with sounds like:
- People with lower-pitched voices
- The rumbling cars, trucks or plane engines (you may be able to hear them, but they can sound tinny or otherwise distorted)
- The bass sounds like a tuba
- Vowel sounds, which are lower on average than consonant sounds, making conversation difficult.
- Phone conversations
If you have reverse slope hearing loss, you probably find it easier to hear others when they are talking close to you and may even find it helpful when they speak louder (which, contrary to popular belief, is not true for most people with hearing loss).
Can Anyone Develop Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss?
While anyone can potentially develop this form of hearing loss, as mentioned, it’s quite rare. Additionally, research has found that certain factors put you at a higher risk.
The National Library of Medicine states that “Meniere’s disease, autoimmune-mediated inner ear disease, and steeply sloping hearing loss in the ipsilateral ear are risk factors” for developing low-frequency hearing loss.
Additionally, cases can be caused by genetic conditions, illnesses experienced in childhood and abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, known as otosclerosis.
Can Low-Frequency Hearing Loss Be Treated with Hearing Aids?
People with low-frequency hearing loss can have a harder time being diagnosed because of its rarity and the fact that its symptoms differ from those of more traditional hearing loss. However, a hearing test with a qualified audiologist can reveal the reverse slope pattern and treatment with hearing aids can help.
Your audiologist can program your hearing aids to amplify lower-pitched sounds without also over-amplifying higher-pitched sounds. Because it is a rarer form of hearing loss, there may be more of a trial-and-error period. However, seeking treatment and working with your audiologist is the best way to manage your hearing loss and be able to do things like talk with your grandchildren on the phone or enjoy a meal with friends at The Shed Restaurant with ease.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact Southwestern Hearing & Balance today.