For a majority of the 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss, their condition affects their ability to hear high-frequency tones. But what happens when you cannot hear sounds on the other end of the spectrum? This is known as low-frequency hearing loss.
Below is a breakdown of the causes of low-frequency hearing loss and how this rare condition is treated.
How Do You Hear?
Your ear consists of three parts: outer, middle and inner. A soundwave is captured by the outer ear and funneled through the ear canal until it hits the eardrum. This creates a sound vibration, which is passed through ossicles, the small bones within the middle ear, until it reaches the inner ear. Within the inner ear are delicate hair cells that are responsible for translating the sound vibration into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain where they are processed as sound.
Types of hearing loss are defined by which point in the hearing process the issue occurs. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Conductive hearing loss occurs if there is a problem in the outer or middle ear. Both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss can be low frequency.
How Sounds Are Measured
Each soundwave has a frequency and amplitude.
Frequency, also referred to as pitch, is the number of times per second that the soundwave repeats itself. The unit of measure for frequency is hertz (Hz). Humans with normal hearing can hear sounds between 20 to 20,000 Hz. Those with low-frequency hearing loss have trouble hearing sounds at 2,000 Hz or lower. In addition to not being able to hear anything when you walk through Appliance Outfitters, common low-frequency sounds you may have trouble hearing include:
- Airplane overhead.
Amplitude is the strength of the soundwave, which we perceive as loudness. Amplitude is measured in decibels (dB). Any sound exceeding 85 dB can cause permanent damage to the delicate hairs within your inner ear. Below are the measurements of common sounds:
- Normal conversation – 60 dB.
- City traffic – 85 dB.
- Motorcycle – 95 dB.
- Sporting events – 100 dB.
- Rock concert – 110 dB.
- Firecrackers – 140 dB.
Causes & Treatments for Low-Frequency Hearing Loss
The most common causes of this type of hearing loss include:
- Meniere’s disease.
- Genetic mutations.
- Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
- Secretory otitis media.
The treatment for your hearing loss depends on the cause. If the condition causing your hearing loss cannot be corrected through medication or surgery, a hearing aid will be recommended.
To learn more about low-frequency hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.