You Say You Can Hear but You May Have Reverse-Slope Hearing Damage | Blog | Nardelli Audiology

You Say You Can Hear but You May Have Reverse-Slope Hearing Damage

By Melissa Carnes Rose, Au.D. September 15, 2023
You Say You Can Hear but You May Have Reverse-Slope Hearing Damage - Nardelli Audiology Blog

People often think of hearing loss as trouble hearing sounds in the higher frequency range such as higher pitched sounds. This is not necessarily true. Reverse-Slope loss of hearing is a type of hearing loss that refers to trouble hearing sounds in the lower frequency range. This means hearing low bass noises and sounds of men with a deep voice. Since the trouble only eliminates the ability to hear lower frequency sound levels, it often goes unnoticed. This is why it is important to know what reverse-slope hearing damage is and what it entails.

The name “reverse-slope,” like the name suggests, refers to a bowl shaped curve instead of a typical bell shaped curve which people would normally see on their audiogram. It is not as common as the hearing loss in higher frequencies which is why it is often ignored. People with reverse-slope hearing problems do not need to increase the volume on their television and generally do not have trouble following conversations. This is why they are often unaware that they have a hearing problem. Between USA and Canada, only 1 case of reverse-slope in every 12,000 hearing damage cases has been recorded.

Reverse-slope hearing impairment can be caused by genetic predisposition or by medical conditions such as Mondini dysplasia or Wolfram syndrome. Even viral infections can cause this type of hearing impairment. Sudden changes in fluid pressure within your inner ear can also cause this type of hearing loss. Causes for this sudden pressure fluctuation include intracranial hypertension, spinal anesthesia, or certain types of fistula.

If reverse-slope hearing impairment is difficult to diagnose, you might wonder how you may identify it. This type of hearing loss is generally unrecorded in normal hearing examinations. Your audiologist would have to run through specialized tests in order to detect it. They may have to run tests to check for pure-tone hearing damage, deficiency in speech recognition in the absence of visual cues, excessively proper speech, and over-sensitivity to higher frequency sound levels.

You may wonder whether you require any treatment for reverse-slope hearing damage, since you may be able to hear perfectly well, or so you believe. In reality, treatment is important so that you can detect important sounds such as the low rumbles of oncoming cars and other important noises in your environment. You may require hearing aids equipped with a multichannel which are non-linear to deal with reverse-slope hearing damage. These will help you hear all the necessary ranges of sounds, including those in the low ranges.

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