Low-frequency hearing loss is associated with “conductive” hearing loss, which happens when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear.
To understand low-frequency hearing loss, it’s important to have some general knowledge of each type of hearing loss to compare the differences.
Hearing is connected to three main components of the ear:
What are three types of hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss may be caused by calcium build-up on the middle ear bones, which is also known as otosclerosis.
The name conductive hearing loss comes from the fact that sound is not properly being conducted, or sent, to the inner ear. Normally, low frequencies are damaged first. This can worsen to the point where all frequency ranges are affected. There is medical treatment available for most types of conductive hearing loss, with little to no lasting effects on your hearing health. There are alternative causes of low-frequency hearing loss that can be derived from the inner ear and the brain, but these are usually less common.
3. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss.
Causes of low-frequency hearing loss
Low-frequency sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear hair cells. This affects deep, or low-pitched noises. This type of hearing loss is also referred to as “reverse slope audiogram”. It indicates that an individual who has low-frequency hearing loss might still have the ability to hear higher frequency sounds. In many cases, those who suffer from low-frequency hearing loss are still able to comprehend speech.
A study from the Kresge Hearing Research Institute showed that an altered gene, WFS1 (Wolfram Syndrome gene) can result in low-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. This mutation is known as Wolfram Syndrome 1. Other origins of low-frequency hearing loss are Meniere’s disease, Mondini dysplasia (a cochlear abnormality), sudden loss of hearing, viral diseases, renal failure, and pressure changes that would contribute to a fistual (for example, intracranial hypertension), or following spinal anesthesia.
Diagnosing low-frequency hearing loss
Low-frequency hearing loss tends to be looked over, due to the fact that there are typically no symptoms. There is not much information about low-frequency hearing loss as there is with higher frequencies in hearing loss, therefore those who have the ability to hear in the middle and high frequency ranges use what can be heard in those frequencies to compensate for what cannot be heard in lower frequencies. This covers up the hearing loss. Speech and language development is typically normal in an individual with low-frequency hearing loss. One of the few indications that someone has low-frequency hearing loss is if the person has a hard time hearing people in a group setting, or a noisy environment.
This type of hearing loss is normally detected during a routine hearing test.
Treating low-frequency hearing loss
Treating low-frequency hearing loss depends on the problems that you are having. In some circumstances, you might not need any treatment. There are hearing aids available that can increase low frequencies without amplifying the areas where a person usually hears from.
If you know of any family history of low-frequency hearing loss, schedule a free hearing test with one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.