Most loss of hearing follows a standard pattern. As the person gets older, they lose the ability to hear the higher frequencies. By the time most people reach their mid-twenties, they can’t hear the highest pitched sounds that teenagers can hear anymore. Women and children become harder to understand than men. This is high frequency hearing loss — the most common loss of hearing and the form most hearing aids are designed for.
But what about the people whose loss is the exact opposite of this? The people that can hear women better than men and can’t hear the roar of machinery that bothers most sufferers? These people have low frequency hearing loss.
You can probably already tell that it’s uncommon. There are only a few things that bring about this condition.
The first and most common cause is Meniere’s Disease. It’s a rare condition caused by a weakening of the membrane in the ear, and in addition to low frequency hearing loss, it causes episodes of vertigo, uncontrollable falling down, nausea, ringing in the ears, and feeling that the ears are blocked up. Sufferers of this disease usually feel exhausted after these episodes. The low frequency hearing loss is one of the milder symptoms of this disease.
The second is genetic factors. Low frequency loss of hearing often runs in families, and many people with it can trace it several generations back. People with the genetic form usually start losing their ability to hearing lower frequencies in childhood. In many ways children with this form of hearing loss are more fortunate than those with others, since all the sounds needed for normal speech are audible, and they can learn to talk normally without the need for speech therapy.
The third possible cause is childhood illness. In some instances, diseases such as Measles and the Chicken Pox can lead to low frequency hearing loss, though this is very, very rare. The advent of vaccines for such diseases is making it even rarer.
People unable to hear low frequencies have different sounds causing them problems than the average high frequency sufferer. As said earlier, men will be more difficult to understand than women. In addition, consonant sounds are slightly higher-pitched than vowel sounds, and so they’re easier to hear. Thunder, car engines, appliances, and other machinery are often difficult to hear or inaudible. Traffic noises are also hard, which is one of the dangers of this form of hearing loss.