Low frequency hearing loss is related to the inability to perceive low sounds. This disorder impairs the ability to perceive the sounds, such as thunder in the distance, any male voices or the notes played by a double bass or trombone. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to diagnose the disorder when symptoms first appear.
Low-frequency hearing loss compromises the ability to hear noises and sounds classified as low. Essentially, it affects only a specific frequency sound spectrum. Normally, we categorise the pitch of a sound in four categories, based on their frequency:
As the disorder develops, it becomes difficult to hear different pitches of sounds. For example, in the case of high-frequency hearing loss, people lose the ability to hear birds chirping and women's voices. In general, the more severe the hearing impairment, the more difficulty one has in hearing sounds closer to middle frequencies.
According to World Health Organisation estimates, there are approximately 466 million people worldwide who suffer from some type of hearing loss. This number is said to double by 2050. Given the phenomenon of an ageing population that affects our country, this number has been steadily increasing since 2012, with a greater impact in the male population.
Low frequency hearing loss may be due to a conductive or sensorineural hypoacusis. In the first case, the cause is a disfigurement or damage to the pinna, eardrum or ear bones, or an obstruction of the canal due to mucus or earwax. In the case of sensorineural hearing loss, there is damage to the hair cells within the cochlea or to the nerve pathways in the ear. This type of hearing loss is generally more severe and is caused by congenital diseases, acoustic trauma, infectious diseases or pathologies such as osteosclerosis and Manière's syndrome, and, more frequently, by presbycusis, the natural degeneration of auditory tissue due to ageing.
In the examples mentioned above, low frequency hearing loss is not an exclusive symptom: there are often other disorders accompanying it that vary in severity, reversibility and time of onset. For example, if low frequency hearing loss is due to Wolfram syndrome (a rare endocrine disease related to diabetes mellitus), the hearing loss normally manifests itself within the first decade of life, is progressive and irreversible and anticipates the onset of the full-blown disease, which occurs in adulthood.
In the case of Ménière's Disease, which specifically affects the inner ear, hearing loss at low frequencies is a fluctuating symptom. This means it surfaces and disappears sporadically, but over time leads to a progressive deterioration of hearing ability. It is common, in cases of congenital disease, such as Mondini's dysplasia, which concerns a malformation of the inner ear, for hearing loss to occur early in life. In this case, the hearing loss is irreversible, whether it was severe from the start or whether it worsened over.
If the hearing loss is sudden, there is no typical age of onset, it is difficult to identify the exact cause. Hearing loss occurs within 24-72 hours of head trauma, severe stress or infection, among other causes. The chance of full recovery in this case is 25%.
Generally speaking, cases of sensorineural hearing loss are the most severe, profound and irreversible, because they are caused by inner ear cell and tissue damage, particularly to the cochlea. It is precisely as a result of the work of the cochlea that our body translates vibrations into nerve signals for our brain. However, an early diagnosis can provide effective treatments for symptoms, including low-frequency hearing loss, and the diseases that cause them.
In order to diagnose low-frequency hearing loss, it is necessary to undergo a hearing test conducted by a professional. Tests during this early stage are used to establish the quality of sounds that the patient can perceive and can be trusted in the diagnosis of a hearing impairment. In that case, further checks are recommended to establish the root cause of the symptoms.
With Amplifon, you can request a free hearing check-up, which is recommended as early as the age of 30 for an early diagnosis of possible hearing problems. You can start with the online hearing test for an initial, purely indicative check-up. Then, visit our site and fill in the form with your details to book a live examination at your nearest Amplifon centre. The audiometric test takes a few minutes and is simple, effective and non-invasive: it takes place in a soundproof room, you wear headphones from which you listen to raw sounds and you must raise your hand as soon as you start to perceive them.
Low-frequency hearing loss is less common than high-frequency hearing loss, which is why it is important to carefully monitor the symptoms, even if they do not seem to be anything to worry about. Nevertheless, it is best to rule out the possibility of an illness with the help of a specialist, especially if it becomes difficult to follow conversations in the presence of background noise. Hearing loss has various consequences and it is necessary to act promptly to try to solve the problem.