Low frequency hearing loss: what is it?
Low-frequency hearing loss is one of the internal ear hearing loss, although a dysfunction in the middle ear can also trigger the low-frequency impairment. Low-frequency sounds are said to occur at a frequency of less than and up to 2000 hertz. When the restriction occurs together with a high-frequency or mid-frequency hearing loss, a broadband hearing loss is diagnosed. Due to the high individuality of hearing loss, the causes and symptoms of hearing loss must be considered in a differentiated manner, in addition to the type and severity. The extent to which a low-frequency hearing loss limits everyday life is thus multifactorial and depends on the individual case.
Cause: How does a low-frequency hearing loss develop?
The reasons why a low-frequency hearing loss occurs are varied. Because low-frequency hearing loss is due to damage to the hair cells, it is classified as sensorineural hearing loss. Both age-related wear (presbycusis) and noise exposure can cause low-frequency hearing loss. In addition, diseases and infections are among the possible causes. A hearing loss, which occurs due to excessive stress or noise, for example, can likewise leave permanent limitations in low-frequency hearing.
If the cause is in the middle ear, the following triggers usually underlie:
In addition, low-frequency hearing loss in one ear is a potential accompanying symptom of cervical spine disorders. In some cases, ear noise, dizziness,and hyperacusis also occur.
Symptoms: recognizing low-frequency hearing loss
People who have low-frequency hearing loss cannot hear low frequencies of 2000 hertz or lower. For the most part, the hearing volume itself is not affected, but comprehension is still limited. Consequently, affected individuals still manage fairly well to carry on one-on-one conversations. Group conversations and conversations in noisy environments, on the other hand, present a much greater difficulty. It is also noticeable that bass tones when listening to music or low voices are particularly difficult to understand.
Diagnosis: How is a low-frequency hearing loss determined?
With the help of hearing tests, a sound audiogram is created. This shows the patient's hearing curves, from which the hearing threshold can be read. Hearing threshold describes the frequency above which sounds are perceptible to the individual. There are two curves - the air conduction curve and the bone conduction curve - which allow statements to be made about the origin of the hearing loss. Accordingly, it is possible to decide whether the defect that triggers low-frequency hearing loss is located in the inner or middle ear.
Low frequency hearing loss audiogram
The audiogram shows a possible progression of the bone and air conduction curves in low-frequency hearing loss. It is noticeable that hearing performance is significantly worse in the low frequency range than in the midrange and finally good hearing performance is recorded in the high frequency range, from about 2000 hertz.
Treatment: what to do about low-frequency hearing loss?
Damage to the inner ear is usually irreparable. Thus, the damaged hair cells cannot be restored and treatment with a hearing aidis necessary. To treat low-frequency hearing loss caused by the middle ear, minor surgery or implants can be used. The rule here is that the sooner treatment is initiated, the better it is for the remaining hearing. It is advisable to prevent hearing loss before permanent damage can occur. Keeping noise exposure as low as possible and reducing stress reduce the risk of hearing impairment.