What are the Signs of Low-Frequency Hearing Loss?

a woman with hearing loss in one ear

Different kinds of hearing loss affect different areas of the hearing range. A low-frequency loss differs from the common high-frequency type of hearing loss and has certain signs indicating its presence. Watching for the signs early on and seeing an audiologist for treatment can help people regain their quality of life.

Understanding low-frequency hearing loss

Before addressing its signs, it is important to define a low-frequency hearing loss. The condition is also known as reverse-slope hearing loss because of how it appears on an audiogram or standard chart of audiologists to measure hearing levels during testing.

Low-frequency hearing loss refers to a diminished ability to hear low-pitched sounds. A few examples are male voices and the bass element of music.

Someone with this form of hearing loss hears speech at a lower volume, and it is also harder to hear vowel sounds as they are spoken at a lower pitch than consonants. The degree of hearing loss can range from mild to profound.

An individual with low-frequency hearing loss typically cannot hear frequencies of 2,000 hertz or lower.

Low-frequency hearing loss symptoms

Identifying the symptoms of this form of hearing loss can be difficult. A person with it can still hear normal speech and participate in many conversations.

However, they will likely struggle to hear well in a loud environment, such as a busy restaurant. They might have trouble picking out words in conversations when meeting a group. Perhaps they insist that people stand close to them so that the voices are easy to understand.

By phone, understanding what is being said by the other person can be difficult. Also, sounds of engines, such as cars or trucks, have a tinny sound rather than a rumbling tone.

If the occurrences described above happen regularly, it is likely to be a sign of low-frequency hearing loss.

While people with low-frequency hearing loss might find that they can still manage to get through social situations, they risk missing out on many things they may not realize are no longer being heard. Thus, it is essential that they get a hearing test by an audiologist who reviews the results, so that they can carry on life without much loss.

Causes of low-frequency hearing loss

As this form of hearing loss is rare, it can go undiagnosed for a long time. With proper testing by an audiologist, though, an audiogram will show the reverse slope pattern that distinguishes it. The slope from low to high on the graph is a pattern that indicates the degradation of hearing low-pitched sounds.

What causes this issue in the inner ear varies, from genetics to specific medical conditions that damage the hair cells in the cochlea. It can be an autoimmune disorder that leads to low-frequency hearing loss, or it could be otosclerosis or Meniere’s disease.

The latter two conditions can also trigger dizziness and tinnitus. If the cause is Meniere’s, the hearing loss can worsen over time, progressing to other hearing loss types.

Understanding the root cause of the hearing loss helps an audiologist to customize a treatment plan. They will also consider if a certain person’s hearing loss is mild or profound and if it is temporary, permanent, or progressive.

The benefit of hearing aids

While a person with low-frequency hearing loss may find that it is not as damaging or has less impact than the high-frequency counterpart, there is still an issue. An audiologist helps those with this type of hearing loss find a treatment plan that fits their lifestyle, which might include using hearing aids.

Wearing advanced hearing aids helps by amplifying low-pitched sounds, without making high-pitched sounds loud too. An audiologist at Imagine Hearing Solutions can help find the right amplification for the individual who is being fit for hearing aids.

Getting tested to identify the loss

Given that an individual may get used to struggling a bit in loud environments to get through it but has no problems hearing high-pitched sounds, they may resist getting a hearing test. They may not realize they have hearing loss or may not think that the problem is profound enough to warrant getting a test.

However, those who have low-frequency hearing loss are likely missing sounds without realizing it that could improve their overall enjoyment of life. They could begin to talk on the phone more again without the stress of straining to hear voices and they could listen to the beautiful, rich tones of the bass in music like they used to do.

Do you want to learn more about hearing tests, identifying low-frequency hearing loss, and treatment options? Reach out to Imagine Hearing Solutions easily at 530-205-0259 for information.