WHAT IS HIGH FREQUENCY HEARING LOSS AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Have you ever had a misunderstanding when communicating with someone else? Everyone has; misunderstandings in communication are a common occurrence. You may misunderstand what someone else is saying for a variety of reasons, from background noise to just not paying attention.

People with high-frequency hearing loss, however, have greater difficulty hearing or understanding anything within the 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz range. Female voices often fall in this range, so sometimes it becomes more difficult for people with high-frequency hearing loss to understand female communication. They may also have trouble hearing high-pitched noises like beeping machinery or birds singing.

High-frequency hearing loss is the result of damage of the sensory hearing cells in the inner ear or cochlea. Tiny hair cells in the cochlea serve to render sound from the outside world into electrical impulses that our brains can then recognize as understandable sounds. When a person suffers from hearing loss, they typically have trouble with higher frequencies before lower frequencies.

What Causes High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

Many things can cause high-frequency hearing loss, and people of all ages can be affected. When children suffer from high-frequency hearing loss, it can disturb learning by hindering communication and speech development, and hamper learning in school.

  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is when a person is exposed to dangerous levels of noise every day. It can also be the result of exposure to a very loud noise, such as a gunshot or explosion, one time. Noise levels over 85 decibels on an ongoing basis can also result in NIHL. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans have suffered irreversible hearing damage due to NIHL.
  • As we age, hearing loss called presbycusis can occur. This damage occurs slowly and affects both ears equally, so it can be hard to notice until it has progressed to a serious level. Signs of presbycusis begin with an inability to understand communication in loud environments.
  • Certain diseases, such as Meniere’s disease can affect the inner ear and may result in fluctuating hearing loss or vertigo. Chronic ear infections in children, if left untreated, can also result in permanent hearing damage.
  • High frequency hearing loss can also be passed down through genes, so if you have family members who have suffered, it is possible you are genetically predisposed to this problem.
  • Some over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are ototoxic, which means they can damage hearing. Drugs used in chemotherapies and aminoglycoside antibiotics can also be harmful.

Is high-frequency hearing loss curable?

High-frequency hearing loss is permanent, but it is often preventable. It is critical to protect your ears when there is exposure to dangerous levels of noise—especially if it is louder than 85 decibels. Live concerts, working around machinery, riding loud motorcycles or snowmobiles, or going to the shooting range can expose you to noise louder than 85 decibels.. Even listening to music too loud can eventually result in high frequency hearing loss! Noise-cancelling headphones as well as ear plugs can be helpful in mitigating this noise and damage to your hearing.

What are my treatment options?

Though high-frequency hearing loss is not reversible, it can be corrected in many cases with hearing aids. If you think you may have some level of hearing loss, schedule a hearing screening with an audiologist right away to prevent further damage.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening

Could Hearing Loss be Related to Snoring?

If you sleep in the same room with a snorer, you know it can be an annoyance, and make you lose sleep. Recent research is also finding, however, that pesky noise can do even more damage than that. If you sleep beside someone who snores, you may be at a higher risk for hearing loss than someone who does not.

Researchers performed hearing tests on healthy middle-aged adults who regularly slept next to snoring partners. The analysis showed that each of the four subjects had high-frequency hearing loss in the ear closest to the snoring partner. This finding suggests that snoring can actually cause hearing damage. Snores as loud as 100 decibels have been recorded during sleep, and sounds of over 85 decibels have the potential to damage hearing.

It turns out the snorers themselves can also be in danger of hearing damage, but for a different reason. People who snore sometimes suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which they stop breathing for a few seconds at a time. In affected individuals, they may experience these “breathing pauses” as often as 30 to 40 times in one night. Although it is unclear why, sleep apnea is associated with a higher incidence of high- and low-frequency hearing loss in addition to other health concerns. Evidence suggests that sleep apnea may injure a structure in the inner ear called the cochlea, which houses tiny hairs that transmit sound to the brain.

If you or your bed partner snore, it is important to see a doctor to evaluate the possibility of sleep apnea. If you share a bed with a snoring partner, ear plugs can block the sounds of snoring and protect your hearing. Be sure to have your hearing tested regularly as well.