Conductive hearing loss, which is usually the culprit with low-frequency loss, usually occurs due to a type of outer or middle ear problem.
To understand low-frequency hearing loss, however, it’s best to know about hearing loss of all types so the difference is clear.
To begin with, there are three major parts of the ear that are involved in hearing: the outer, middle and inner ear. The outer ear captures sound and sends it to the middle ear. The middle ear consists of the eardrum and middle ear bones that direct sound onto the inner ear. Nerve cells and nerve fibers are held in the inner ear that then send the information to the brain.
High-frequency hearing loss is significantly more common
Out of all types of hearing loss, “sensorineural” hearing loss is the most common. Sensorineural hearing loss most commonly arises first in the high-frequencies due to the aging process and/or exposure to loud sounds. Like the name implies, sensorineural hearing loss is the result of an insult to the inner ear (sensori-) and the nerves that transfer information to and from the brain (-neural).
Conductive hearing loss, however, usually takes place in the middle ear and is likely a sign that something physical is occurring with the eardrum or within the middle ear space. This could be due to eardrum scarring, holes in the eardrum, negative pressure in the middle ear or fluid/infection in that area.
There is also a possibility that the hearing loss is due to otosclerosis, which is caused by a build-up of calcium on the middle ear bones.
This condition is referred to as conductive hearing loss because sound is not being conducted to the inner ear properly. Normally, it affects low frequencies first and may progress to impact all frequencies. Thankfully, most conductive hearing loss can be treated medically with limited long-term effects on overall hearing. Although it is much less common, there are other causes of low-frequency hearing losses that stem from the inner ear and brain.
Lastly, the third type of hearing loss is “mixed” hearing loss which simply means that there is a presence of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss in the hearing test results of the patient.
If you have or think you may have hearing loss, schedule an appointment with a hearing healthcare professional to find the cause and your options for treatment. To find a hearing professional near you, call (888) 919-6824 or click here.