Imagine going to sleep one night and the next day you see your boyfriend or husband talking, but cannot hear him. It happened to a woman from Xiamen, China when a night before she vomited and heard ringing in her ears. She went to the Qianpu Hospital the next morning, an ear, nose and throat specialist told her that she was suffering from a low-frequency hearing loss, also known as reverse-sloping hearing loss.
The average male voice has a lower frequency, which is why Ms. Chen couldn’t hear when men talked, but could hear Dr. Lin Xiaoqing, the woman doctor who treated her:
“She couldn’t hear him at all.”
The doctors believe that it’s a condition caused by stress, considering that before her hearing loss began deteriorating, she used to work late and did not sleep enough.
The good news is that that the patient’s hearing loss might revert with only some rest.
This condition is rare, as doctors have seen far more cases of high-frequency hearing loss – where patients cannot hear the voices of children or women.
In North America, about 3,000 people are affected by this condition. But low-frequency noises are not just of male voices or voices on the phone and the fridge noises. There are also noises like passing cars or thunders which can put them in danger.
Cases of Hearing Loss to Double in the Next Decades
Several genetic conditions can cause reverse-sloping hearing loss: when the cochlea is incomplete (Mondini dysplasia), Ménière’s – when the hair cells in the inner ear are affected. Reverse-sloping hearing loss can also be triggered by a shift in the pressure of ear fluid. This can happen after a general anesthetic or intracranial hypertension.
The World Health Organization statistics show that there are about 466 million people all over the world that suffer from a type of disabling hearing loss. By 2050 the number should be over 900 million. Why the huge rise? Not only exposure to loud noises, but also hereditary diseases, infections, aging or certain drugs can cause hearing loss.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.