A relatively rare condition, low-frequency hearing lossis defined as a reduction in the ability to hear low-pitched sounds, such as thunder, men’s voices and bass music. Also known as reverse-slope hearing loss, this type of hearing impairment is named after how it appears on an audiogram, a chart used during a hearing test to measure hearing levels.
How Low-Frequency Loss Affects Hearing
While most people with hearing loss have trouble hearing high-frequency sounds like the voices of women and children, this type of hearing loss affects your ability to hear low-pitched sounds. Car, truck and airplane engines may lack their “rumble” and music may come off as “tinny.”
How you perceive the volume of speech is also affected. In addition, vowels are harder to hear, as they are often spoken at a lower pitch than consonants.
Low-Frequency Hearing Loss Causes
While genetics and childhood illness can cause this type of hearing loss, many cases have been linked to Meniere’s disease. This inner ear disorder causes dizziness/vertigo, a ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss.
Meniere’s disease occurs when fluid builds up inside the inner ear. Excess of fluid can interfere with brain signals. The reason people develop Meniere’s disease is unclear, but experts believe the buildup of fluid may be caused by:
Hearing loss may also evolve over time, affecting sounds across a wide spectrum of pitches.
Treatment for Low-Frequency Hearing Loss
Identifying this type of hearing loss is key to receiving proper treatment. Since the condition is so rare, it is often initially misdiagnosed. Some people can live with untreated hearing loss for years.
Hearing aids programmed to amplify lower sounds without over-amplifying higher-pitched ones are the preferred treatment. Today’s hearing devices have a wide range of features, including Bluetooth connectivity, automatic programming, smartphone connectivity and more. Follow-up visits are crucial, as getting the right amplification requires some trial and error.