Woman is unable to hear the voices of MEN – including her own boyfriend – and can only pick up the higher frequency tones of other females
- The woman, from China, went to sleep with nausea and ringing in her ears
- The next day she went straight to hospital with sudden hearing loss
- A specialist said stress had given her ‘low-frequency hearing loss’
A rare ear condition has left a woman only able to hear women’s voices.
A woman has been diagnosed with a type of hearing loss which means she can’t hear the voices of men – only women.
The woman from Xiamen, on China’s east coast, knew something was wrong when she woke up and couldn’t hear her boyfriend’s voice.
Ms. Chen, from the city Xiamen, on the east coast of China- 416miles (716km) away from Hong Kong, went straight to hospital.
The night before, the patient—only identified by her last name Chen—heard ringing in her ears and vomited.
The next morning, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Qianpu Hospital told Ms. Chen that she had a form of low-frequency hearing loss known as reverse-slope hearing loss. This meant she was unable to hear lower-frequency sounds, including the average male voice.
Dr. Lin Xiaoqing, a woman doctor who treated Ms. Chen, said the patient was able to hear her when she spoke but couldn’t hear a male patient.
“She couldn’t hear him at all,” said Dr. Xiaoqing.
Doctors believe the condition was brought on by stress, as Ms. Chen had worked late and was not sleeping enough before her hearing deteriorated.
The condition is believed to affect only one in nearly 13,000 patients with hearing problems, according to figures.
It was possible that stress may have contributed to the condition, the doctors said.
Ms Chen reportedly had been suffering from nausea and ringing in her ears the night before her ordeal.
Dr. Xiaoqing said Ms. Chen is expected make a full recovery with some rest.
Reverse-sloping hearing loss is a form of sensorineural hearing loss. The term describes the shape of a hearing test audiogram of those who can’t hear low frequencies.
High-frequency hearing loss, where sufferers are unable to hear the voices of women or children, is more common. In this condition, the plot of the audiogram runs from the upper-left-hand corner of the graph and travels downwards like a ski-slope. In reverse-sloping hearing loss, the shape of the audiogram runs in the opposite direction.
Only around 3,000 people in north America are affected by the rare condition.
As well as struggling to hear low-frequency voices, those with the condition can find it tough to make out voices on the phone, as well as noises like the hum of the fridge or thunder. This can put sufferers in danger, as they may not hear noises like oncoming cars.
Genetic condition including Mondini dysplasia—where the cochlea is incomplete—can cause reverse-sloping hearing loss, as well as diseases which affect the hair cells in the inner ear, like Ménière’s. Less often, a shift in the pressure of ear fluid can trigger reverse-sloping hearing loss. This can be caused by general anesthetic, a perilymphatic fistula (an abnormal opening in the ear), and intracranial hypertension, caused by pressure in the central nervous system.
According to the World Health Organization, some 466 million people across the world are affected by some form of disabling hearing loss. By 2050, that figure is expected to hit over 900 million. A range of factors can cause hearing loss, including hereditary diseases, infections, certain drugs, aging, and exposure to loud noises.
WHAT IS REVERSE-SLOPE HEARING LOSS?
Reverse-slope hearing loss (RSL) affects mainly the lower frequencies.
One of the main causes of RSL is genetics. Wolfram syndrome, Mondini dysplasia, and inheritance through a dominant gene have all been identified as sources of RSHL.
Certain diseases have been implicated as well, mainly those affecting the hair cells, which are responsible for sending sound information from the inner ear to the brain. Examples include sudden hearing loss, Ménière’s disease and viral infection.
The third most common source of RSHL is anything that causes a change in the pressure of the endolymph, a fluid in the inner ear. This includes things such as spinal or general anesthesia, intracranial hypertension, and a perilymphatic fistula.
It is difficult to recognize, diagnose, and treat as most health care professionals will be caring for high-frequency loss or simply have never heard of it.
Also, people who are born with the condition may not be aware that they have it, therefore never seeking help.
Symptoms include difficulty understanding speech on the phone, as volume normally comes from lower frequencies, ease understanding women and children but not men, and inability to hear low-frequency environmental sounds such as thunder and a refrigerator humming.
RSL can be difficult to treat as manufacturer-recommended hearing aid settings are meant for high-frequency hearing loss – which millions of people have.
It gets it’s name from the fact it shows the opposite graphical representation on an audiogram to the more common high-frequency hearing loss.
It’s distinct appearance looks the opposite of a ski slope, starting in the lower-left-hand corner and sloping upward steeply.
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