High-frequency hearing loss is a problem that affects a significant amount of people about, in the population, yet so many know so little about it. From constant ringing to difficulty in comprehending what others are saying, high-frequency hearing loss is seen to have a profound effect on the quality of life in its victims. However, what are its causes and symptoms? Is it preventable or treatable? Thankfully high frequency hearing loss treatment exist.

In this article, we attempt to answer these particular questions, explore the science behind the development of hearing loss and provide practical and realistic solutions brought to us by the new age of technological advancements. So, sit back, relax, and grab some coffee as you join me in unwrapping the mystery around high frequency hearing loss treatment.

What Is High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

high frequency hearing loss treatment
Image Credit: Audicus

High-frequency hearing loss is a type of hearing loss where people have difficulty hearing sounds between the 2000 Hertz to 8000 Hz range. This implies that there are certain sounds that one is not able to perceive, and as such, they’ll make it difficult for the one affected to comprehend what others around him are saying. It is considered to be a common form of sensorineural hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that transmit sound to the brain.

This type of loss may occur to anyone at any age, but it becomes increasingly common as people grow older. A majority of the affected patients are 65 yrs. of age or older. However, we must understand that anyone can develop high-frequency hearing loss, especially when exposed to some of the risk factors around the disease. We must know how the disease manifests so we can identify it as soon as it develops. It is also important that we know about its treatment so that we may not despair if it happens to occur to us. 

What Causes High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

The is no particular cause for high-frequency hearing loss as there can be many, including:

1. Age

In many cases, age has been implicated in the loss of hearing especially high frequency hearing loss. As a general observation, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 experience hearing loss of any kind [1]. This kind of age-related hearing loss is commonly referred to as presbycusis. It occurs because of the changes in the inner ear- the wear and tear to the hairs and nerve cells in the cochlea that transmit sound signals to the brain. Alternatively, other medical conditions associated with old age, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can significantly increase the risk for high-frequency hearing loss. However, this is preventable and treatable. 

2. Diseases

A variety of diseases can lead to high-frequency hearing loss. For instance, otosclerosis, which is an abnormal growth of the stapes bone of the ear, can lead to impaired transmission of sound to the inner ear, thus impairing the perception of sounds, particularly those in the high-frequency range. Elsewhere, Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear characterized by the buildup of fluid in the inner ear after a viral infection, can also cause loss of hearing in addition to causing vertigo and tinnitus. Ultimately, this disease will lead to loss of hearing loss of other frequencies, but it starts with high-frequency sounds. Also implicated here is the autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED).

3. Tumors

Tumors such as acoustic tumors can lead to high-frequency hearing loss. This particular tumor can lead to loss of hearing loss through various mechanisms, including putting pressure on the cochlear nerve and thus impairing the ability to hear sounds, interfering with fluid-filled chambers of the inner ear, and finally, damaging the hair cells, which are responsible for detecting sound vibrations and turning them to an electrical signal for nerve transmission. This last mechanism is implicated in permanent high-frequency hearing loss. 

4. Genetics

This is also a common cause for hearing loss in high frequencies and can be passed down generations or caused by novel genetic mutations. These mutations are said to target the hair cells or proteins involved in the transmission of sounds from hair cells to the auditory nerve. Some of the syndromes implicated here include Connexin 26-related hearing loss, Usher syndrome, and Pendred syndrome.

5. Noise

This particular type of hearing loss is not rare. It occurs when one is exposed to prolonged high levels of noise, such as working in factories. This causes damage to the hair cells that are particularly sensitive to loud sounds, especially those in high- frequencies. This causes cumulative and irreversible damage gradually. This is particularly the commonest cause of high-frequency hearing loss in children, as per a 2018 study.

6. Medications

Some medications that have ototoxic effects can also cause inner ear damage and, thus, hearing loss of sounds in high frequencies. These include some NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, antibiotics especially the aminoglycosides such as gentamicin, thiazide diuretics such as furosemide and HCTZ, and some anti-neoplastic agents such as cisplatin.

Signs and Symptoms Of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

High-frequency hearing loss is associated with the following manifestations:

  • Difficulty following conversations, especially when background noise is present.
  • Phone conversations become unclear
  • People seem to be mumbling
  • There is a certain difficulty in locating the source of sounds
  • Turning up the TV is too loud
  • Consonants such as “s,” “h,” and “f,” have higher frequencies and are difficult to hear
  • Harder to perceive women’s and children’s voices as well as the singing of the birds 

Diagnosis of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

This is done by an audiologist conducting a hearing test. The plotted audiogram shows a slope to the right. this indicates hearing loss between the frequencies of 2000Hz and 8000Hz.

There can be varied degrees of hearing loss and it is best to understand them for a proper approach to treatment.

Prevention and High Frequency Hearing Loss Treatment

Usually, high-frequency hearing loss is irreversible, which means that prevention is the better option. 

To prevent the development of acquired high-frequency hearing loss, one ought to wear some of the protective devices, including ear plugs and ear muffs, when working in places with prolonged loud noise such as dentist.. If the problem arises from ototoxic medication, it is imperative that you have to stop the medications and ask your physician to provide alternatives. Finally, if it is caused by infections or diseases, it is recommended that you treat the underlying disease early enough to prevent further damage especially worth conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

Unfortunately, some causes of the disease are not preventable. However, this does not mean that the quality of life of those affected cannot be improved. 

High-frequency hearing loss treatment involves the use of hearing aids to amplify the sound and improve hearing ability. Additionally, high-frequency hearing loss treatment can use cochlear implants for severe cases. Finally, for genetic causes, genetic counseling is the most appropriate route to follow.

High Frequency Hearing Loss Treatment Takeaway

Having understood the extent of how high-frequency hearing loss can affect one’s life, we can all agree it needs intervention. While if the damage is done it tends to be irreversible, there is hope in the use of cochlear implants and hearing aids in high-frequency hearing loss treatment. However, it is important to note that the best treatment for this particular condition is prevention.

Head Hearing Health Clinician at Florida Hearing Institute | + posts

Florida License: AS-2471 – NPI: 1992749147

Ivonne Baixeras is a Florida-Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist with a track record of almost three decades treating hearing problems in Miami-Dade County and serving the needs of thousands of satisfied patients. Ivonne is a graduate of both Miami-Dade College & Florida International University and worked for many years at the largest national chain of hearing clinics in the US where she's received multiple awards.

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