Q: What Causes Low Frequency Hearing Loss?

There are three main reasons, that typically causes low frequency hearing loss:

  1. Fluids buildup in the middle ear (most common reason, by far)
  2. Meniere's disease
  3. Otosclerosis

Now in details:

1) Fluids buildup in the middle ear

The Ear is composed of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The middle ear is the space between the eardrum and the inner ear. It should be well ventilated so the sound waves who runs into the eardrum can vibrate the hearing bones in the middle ear and transfer the sounds to the inner ear.

The part that keeps the ear well ventilated is called “Eustachian tube”, which is the tube connecting the ear to the back of the throat. You can feel it well when your ear gets blocked on steep slopes.

This tube keeps the ear ventilated, and sometimes, mainly with kids, the tube malfunctions and causes fluids to build up inside the middle ear (right behind the ear drum).

With kids, (and sometimes with adults, too) the tube can malfunction due to mucus and other secretions like chronic infections. As a result, the middle ear isn’t ventilated as it should be, and a mass of fluid is built up just behind the ear drum and doesn'tn’t allow it to move freely as it should.

Usually, you can’t feel it at all, but it causes low tone hearing loss of some level. Any ENT doctor can easily see the fluids and decide on the treatment. There are numerous ways to handle these situations, varying from orthodox methods to holistic ones.

The classic treatment can be medicines to drain the fluids, straightforward and common ventilation tubes operation called Myringotomy (they simply insert tiny tubes to the eardrum, enabling ventilation from the outer ear. Tubes typically fall spontaneously within a year or two)

Another popular treatment is to do nothing... The ENT can decide just to track the fluids without any interference.

By the way...

Due to the nature of this hearing loss, it can be seasonal... On some kids, as winter arrives, they tend to have more mucus, which causes some fluids build up which in its turn causes some hearing loss. During spring, all the system dries up and hearing comes back to normal...

2) Meniere's disease

Another option for a low tone hearing loss is Meniere's disease. It’s an inner ear disease, and the main symptoms are vertigo, nausea and/or vomiting, tinnitus or low tones hearing loss. The reasons for the disease aren’t quite clear, but it is related to high pressure of the inner ear fluids.

Doctors diagnose this disease by the differential diagnosis and denial of other options with similar symptoms. Treatment varies from certain drugs for handling the symptoms to various operational options.

Hearing loss can cover a wider frequency range as disease progress.

3) Otosclerosis

A disease, where the last of the hearing bones (stapes) gets stuck, and doesn’t move freely. It can get to a point where it is totally fixed in place. This calcification of the bone harms the sounds transfer abilities of the hearing bones. A low tone hearing loss is typically the first stage of this disease, and it might later expend to a wider frequency range. A common solution is an operation to replace the stapes with an implant.

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