Help! I have high frequency hearing loss.

Two very common types of hearing loss include noise induced hearing loss and presbycusis, or age related hearing loss. Both of these are permanent in the fact that once our inner ear hair cells are damaged, we have no way in restoring their function to normal. Both conditions frequently result in something call high frequency hearing loss.

What is high frequency hearing loss?

Our ears hear a wide range of tones or frequencies. These range from low or bass tones, to high or treble tones. Often times, only part of the hearing range is damaged. For people who have high frequency hearing loss, it is not uncommon to have normal hearing for the bass or low pitch tones, but to have lost the ability to hear the high pitches. If you picture a radio that has all of the treble tuned out of it, this is what it can be like with high frequency hearing loss. You will still hear, but often times people complain of a lack of clarity.

How can high frequency hearing loss affect me?

Clarity in our hearing comes from the ability to hear high frequency sounds. We have many valuable speech sounds in the high frequency region that are important for distinguishing words. These include the “s” “f” “t” “th” sounds to name a few. Somebody who has high frequency hearing loss may hear the word “wife” and “white” the same, and this often leads to a misunderstanding. We will hear patients with high frequency hearing loss say, “I can hear the voice, I just don’t understand what they’re saying.”

Missing out on these valuable speech cues and having misunderstanding can be very frustrating. This frustration can lead to the listener giving up, or possibly isolating themselves because they don’t want to put in the extra effort to communicate.

Hearing aids can help with high frequency hearing loss

Hearing aid technology allows for the important speech information to be amplified to a point that the individual ear can use the information again. It is important that individuals don’t go too long without hearing the high frequencies because the longer the brain goes w/out hearing certain tones, the harder it is to introduce them back at a later time. Remember, the brain is a muscle, and you have to keep it exercised to keep it strong.

Take home

The first step in identifying whether or not hearing loss exists, is to visit an audiologist for a hearing test. If you think you may have hearing loss come meet with one of our Doctors of Audiology. Together we work with our medical doctors to come up with the best treatment options for your needs. Call us at 651-888-7800 to schedule an appointment.

In the meantime, here is some information about why our hearing is so important. 

What is Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and How is it Treated?

Now that winter is officially upon us, many people are experiencing some symptoms associated with colds and sinuses. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and affect all sort of areas in our bodies as well as in our daily lives. One of the most common symptoms associated with this time of year is eustachian tube dysfunction.

What is eustachian tube dysfunction?

We have 3 main parts of our ears: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. All 3 of these parts need to be working properly for us to hear effectively. As our allergies act up, out middle ear is particularly susceptible to issues, particularly due to dysfunction of our eustachian tubes. The most common cause of eustachian tube dysfunction is excessive mucus and inflammation of the tube caused by a cold, the flu, a sinus infection or allergies.

The eustachian tube is a small passageway that connects the upper part of your throat (pharynx) to your middle ears. The purpose of our eustachian tubes is to equalize pressure the pressure in our middle ear. Sneezing, swallowing, or yawning will usually force open the eustachian tubes to allow air to flow in and out. But sometimes one or both of our eustachian tubes is plugged and the eustachian tubes cannot open. This is called eustachian tube dysfunction or ETD for short. When this happens, sounds can become muffled and your ear may feel full. You may also experience ear pain or other symptoms.

What are the symptoms of eustachian tube dysfunction?

Some common complaints of those with eustachian tube dysfunction are:

  • – Plugged or full sensation of your ears
  • – Muffled hearing
  • – Popping, clicking, or fluttering sensation in your ears
  • – Pain in your ears
  • – Ringing, or tinnitus, in your ears
  • – Mild dizziness or off-balance feeling

Some people will experience only a few of these symptoms and other may experience all of them. Activities such as flying or riding in an elevator can further affect the pressure in the middle ear.

How is eustachian tube dysfunction diagnosed?

An otolaryngologist (ENT) doctor can diagnose eustachian tube dysfunction. Your ENT doctor will be able to diagnose ETD by talking to you about your symptoms and by examining you. Your doctor will examine your ear canals and eardrums, and your nasal passages and the back of your throat.

An audiologist may also want to see you if you are having symptoms associated with eustachian tube dysfunction. The audiologist will do a tympanogram test to determine if there is an abnormal amount of negative pressure in your middle ear space. They may also want to conduct a hearing test to determine if there is any hearing loss associated with the eustachian tube dysfunction.

What is the treatment for eustachian tube dysfunction?

Sometimes eustachian tube dysfunction clears up on its own without any treatment. If it does not clear up, there are a number of things your doctor may do to help alleviate the eustachian tube dysfunction, including:

  • – Eustachian tube exercises to help force the eustachian tube to open
  • – Prescribing a decongestant to help reduce swelling of the eustachian tube
  • – Prescribing an antihistamine or steroid nasal spray to reduce allergic responses
  • – Surgically implanting pressure equalizing (PE) tubes to help equalize the pressure
  • – Performing a myringotomy – making a tiny incision in the eardrum to help equalize the pressure

Take Home

If you are someone you know is experiencing symptoms associated with eustachian tube dysfunction call us at 651-888-7800 to schedule an appointment with our doctor.

Check out our post from last week for more information about when to see your audiologist or see our Andros ENT and Sleep Center website to get more information.

When is it Time to See Your Audiologist?

Audiologists are health care professionals that evaluate hearing and how the ear functions. Most audiologists have trained for 8 years and achieved a Doctorate degree making them specialists in evaluating hearing disorders. When is the right time to see an audiologist?

Hearing is a vital sense that connects us to our outside world. We use our ears and hearing for communication with each other, for safety in locating sounds around us, and the balance portion helps us orient ourselves in space. Recent research studies have found that the brain actually changes and ages faster when we are not hearing as well due to a lack of consistent stimulation to the brain. Since hearing is such an important part of our lives and well-being, it is important to seek medical advice if there are any changes to our hearing and balance systems.

Hearing Issues to See Your Audiologist About

Some clues that your hearing might not be as acute as it used to be:

  • – You find yourself asking “what” or “huh” more often
  • – Your ears are ringing or buzzing
  • – Background noise has become increasingly difficult, and you may even start avoiding them
  • – You feel as though you can still hear people’s voices, but just not understand the words they are saying as well
  • – Your ears have a sensation of fullness, or you feel as though you have pressure in your ears
  • – You have drainage coming from your ears
  • – You are more sensitive to loud sounds than you were before

Balance Issues to See Your Audiologist About

The ear is also responsible for helping us keep our balance and if this part of the ear experiences any disturbances, it can cause dizziness or balance related issues.

Some clues that your balance system might not be as acute as it used to be:

  • – You experience vertigo, or dizziness
  • – You feel as though you drift to one side when walking
  • – Dizziness occurs with positional changes like turning your head or looking up to the sky or rolling over in bed
  • – You experience a drunk-like feeling when not drunk

These are just a limited group of symptoms that can be related to changes in your ears, hearing, and balance system. Symptoms are even more alarming if they are isolated to one ear or one side. The above list would not be considered emergent items. If you experience a sudden change in hearing, you should seek medical help immediately as there is a critical window of 48 hours to seek treatment in these cases.

If you are experiencing any of the hearing or balance issues above, an audiologist is a great place to start to get more information. Audiologists are trained to make appropriate referrals if warranted. Most audiological testing is fast, covered by insurance, and easy to perform in a routine clinical environment. Call 651-888-7888 to arrange evaluation with one of our Doctors of Audiology today!