Understanding and Managing Low-Frequency Hearing Loss

Hearing loss might not be a fatal health ailment but affects around one in six individuals in Australia.

From daily communication to mental health, professional life and personal relationships, hearing impairment of any degree can take a toll on your life. No matter the extent and type, hiding or ignoring your hearing disability will only make life difficult for you and people around you. So, it is important to identify the type of hearing loss you’re suffering from and find a suitable treatment for your condition.

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Hearing loss is classified into different types based on the severity, time of occurrence and frequency. In this article, we will be discussing low-frequency hearing loss which is often related to conductive hearing loss occurring with some degree of inner or outer ear problem.

What is low-frequency hearing loss?

Low frequency hearing loss, also known as reverse slope audiogram, is the hearing impairment that occurs when inner ear hair cells get damaged. The role of hair cells in the inner ear is to detect and pass it through the auditory nerve to the brain.

An individual suffering from this type of hearing loss will not able to hear sounds with frequencies 2000 HZ or below. However, a person with low frequency hearing loss may still hear high-frequency sounds and thus is able to still communicate better as compared to people with high-degree hearing loss.

What causes low-frequency hearing loss?

A mutation in the Wolfram Syndrome Gene (WFS1) is the most common cause of low-frequency hearing loss. Some other causes of low frequency hearing loss include:

  • Mondini Dysplasia, a malformation in the inner ear.
  • Meniere’s Disease, a disorder of the inner ear causing a feeling of congestion in the ear.
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Renal failure
  • Viral infections
  • Rapid changed in pressure

Why is low-frequency hearing loss difficult to diagnose?

A person with low-frequency hearing loss may not detect the problem easily unless the person undergoes regular hearing tests. This is because the condition manifests no significant symptoms.

The major reason behind being symptom-free is that the low frequency sounds are intense and do not carry as much information as sounds in higher frequencies. So, a person with hearing in moderate and high frequencies can make up for what they are unable to hear in low frequencies, thus concealing their hearing loss.

In addition, a person with low frequency hearing loss usually exhibits no signs of missing speech sounds or abnormal speech production patterns as they develop speech and language just like people with normal hearing.

However, low frequency hearing loss may be manifested in a noisy environment or when the person is conversing in a group. If you already have a family history of hearing loss, we recommend you visit your audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation instead of just relying on free hearing tests. The earlier you seek professional assistance and care for your hearing condition, the lesser the impact of hearing loss on your life.

How can low-frequency hearing loss be treated?

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Once you are diagnosed with low-frequency hearing loss and have assessed the severity of your condition, your audiologist will discuss with you the best course of treatment for your problem.

Treatment may not be necessary in minor cases. However, in severe degree of low frequency hearing loss, your audiologist may suggest hearing aids with noise reduction and sound amplification features that can improve your hearing in noisy background and amplify low frequency sounds that are difficult for you to hear. Moreover, you can get all the information regarding your hearing device like how you can adjust settings, how to take care of your hearing aid batteries and the device etc. from your audiologist.

Though a low frequency hearing loss may not cause as much problem as complete hearing loss, if you suspect you are suffering from this condition, you must get your hearing evaluated immediately. Early detection of hearing loss of any kind can help you seek necessary care and treatment while improving your quality of life.

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