Deafness/Hearing Impairment/poor hearing mid range

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Question
I am in the Army, and we have to get a hearing test annually.  I asked, this year, what the numbers meant.  The technician explained how to read the test results, but had no explanation for my numbers.  My current test result is:

L: 500-10  1000-10  2000-20  3000-25  4000-20  6000-15
R: 500-15  1000-5  2000-20  3000-25  4000-20  6000-15

This is almost identical to the results of my baseline test from 2007, except that my hearing at 6000 MHz went from 0 to 15.  But, it's always been 25 at 3000 MHz.

I am 42 years old, so I am not overly concerned that I am beginning to show some signs of hearing loss in the higher registers.  I'll take better care to protect my hearing in the future, but I cannot undo what has been done (not that the damage is bad at this point).

What I am curious about is why my hearing is the worst in the middle frequencies.  That seems weird to me.  The technician pointed out that it could be the equipment.  However, my baseline test was done at another location on another machine.

The poorer hearing in that mid range has not gotten worse at this point (it is identical to what it was 6 years ago), so it would not appear to be a degenerative problem.  What are potential causes of it?

Answer
First, let me say that your hearing thresholds are all entirely within normal limits— which range from 0 – 25 dB HL.

You wonder why the greater hearing depression occurs in the middle frequency range—and peaks at 3000 Hz at 25 dB HL.

You also wonder at the cause of the “hearing loss”.

In answer, to be completely accurate, the audiologist would first have to remeasure your hearing thresholds with a “bone” oscillator just like he/she did with head phones.  This would tell whether the “problem” was in the mechanical mechanisms of the middle ear—or in the delicate hair cells of the cochlea or inner ear.

Let’s assume that yours is an inner ear problem (as it would appear to be from the pattern of hearing thresholds obtained).   There are three potential causes of a bilateral symmetrical mid frequency sensorineural hearing loss which come to mind.  One is congenital—that is, hearing losses  which occur at birth often have mid frequency losses.  Another is head trauma.  It has been shown that in cases of head trauma  involving concussion, the mid frequencies often are the ones that come down.  The third is excessive noise exposure.  Noise-induced hearing loss is associated with a sensorineural  hearing loss peaking anywhere from 3000 – 6000 Hz.

As a  member of the armed forces, you may have been exposed to gunfire, and other traumatic events which could be causative factors in your mid frequency hearing loss.

Fortunately, your hearing  has not deteriorated since 2007.  I would recommend using ear protection when ever you experience excessive noise exposure.

I hope this has helped in answering your questions.

Sincerely,


Dr. Reiter

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

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Levi A. Reiter, Ph.D.

Expertise

I am a full Professor of Audiology at Hofstra University and also in private practice. I can answer questions regarding hearing loss, auditory diagnoses, hearing aids, assistive listening devices, deafness

Experience

I have been teaching audiology at Hofstra University for 33 years. I have been in private practice for 31 years. I do hearing assessments, auditory diagnostic tests which are physiological, e.g., ABR, OAEs, etc. I also have over 30 years experience in fitting, and dispensing hearing aids.

Organizations
ASHA (American Speech-Language and Hearing Associaton AAA (American Academy of Audiology)

Publications
My articles have appeared in: Journal of Auditory Research J of Speech and Hearing Disorders J of Speech and Hearing Research The Hearing Journal J of the American Tinnitus Association The ASHA Leader Plus.......

Education/Credentials
I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, and two post-doctoral fellowships from NIH and NICHD. I am Board Certified by the American Academy of Audiology, and hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. I also have numerous professional publications in the field of Audiology.

Awards and Honors
Fellowship from the National Institute of Health Sciencess Fellowship from the National Institute of Child Development Scholarships from the U of Rochester, Connecticut College Faculty Development grants from Hofstra U. The Scholars Award from the American Academy of Audiology The ACE award from the American Speech & Hearing Association

Past/Present Clients
Not sure what this means. I see clients of all ages and from all parts of the world.

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