Reverse-slope or low-frequency hearing loss is one of the rarest forms of hearing loss. People with this type of hearing loss find it hard to hear low-pitched sounds, such as thunder, bass sounds in music and men’s voices. Named for how it appears on an audiogram – the chart used by audiologists to make a visual representation of a patient’s hearing loss – this type of hearing loss is harder to diagnose than the substantially more common high-frequency variety.

Reverse Slope Hearing Loss Symptoms

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Those with this type of hearing loss struggle to hear low-frequency sounds, such as:

  • Deep voices (usually men)
  • Phone conversations
  • Car, truck and airplane engines
  • Bass in music

The way you perceive the volume of speech (i.e., how loud speech sounds) is affected with this type of hearing loss. Vowels are harder to understand, as they are typically spoken at a lower pitch than consonants.

In contrast, people with this type of hearing loss are very good at hearing high-pitched sounds, like birds chirping, the hum of a refrigerator and child’s laughter.

Causes of Low-Frequency Hearing Loss

A disorder of the inner ear called Meniere’s disease can lead to dizziness, tinnitus and reverse-slope hearing loss. While Meniere’s is the most common cause, genetics and childhood illness have also been linked to low-frequency hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Treatment

Hearing aids are the preferred method of treatment for this type of hearing loss. Left untreated, hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal, depression and even cognitive decline. Since reverse-slope hearing loss is so rare, programming the hearing aids to the right amplification levels involves trial and error.

There are a variety of hearing devices on the market to fit both your hearing and lifestyle needs, with features such as Bluetooth connectivity, background noise reduction, directional microphones, rechargeable batteries, smartphone apps, automatic programming and more. Working with your Salem audiologist is the best way to find a treatment plan that works for you.

The experts at Willamette Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery can help you identify your specific type of hearing loss and work with you to find the right treatment plan. Call today to schedule an appointment!

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