Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss Explained

For most people who have hearing loss, they experience what is referred to as high-frequency hearing loss. That means they have trouble hearing high-pitched voices and sounds. Reverse-slope hearing loss (RSHL) is also known as low-frequency hearing loss. That is difficulty hearing sounds on the lower register, like deep male voices. It is often not as noticeable and is also much less common than high-frequency hearing loss. Today we are highlighting more about reverse-slope hearing loss, causes, symptoms, and treatment.

What is Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss?

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The reason that low-frequency hearing loss gets the name reverse-slope hearing loss is because of the shape of an audiogram result chart, the reverse of a ski slope. It is also sometimes referred to as sloping hearing loss or shortened to RSHL. It is a less common type of hearing loss and is also not always a type of hearing loss that is noticed. People with this type of hearing loss usually aren’t turning up the television too loud and they don’t have trouble hearing most people speak, so they often don’t realize they even have any type of hearing impairment. Reverse-slope hearing loss is so rare, in the U.S. and Canada there is only one case of diagnosed RSHL for every 12,000 cases of hearing loss. NOTE: There are different degrees of reverse-slope hearing loss.

Causes of Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

  • Genetics: It can be inherited through a dominant gene and is also caused by Wolfram syndrome or Mondini dysplasia.
  • Certain Diseases including sudden hearing loss, Ménière’s disease, and viral infection.
  • Anything that cases a change is pressure of the fluid in the inner ear called endolymph. This change in pressure can be induced as a result of spinal or general anesthesia, intracranial hypertension, and perilymphatic fistula.

Diagnosing Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

Reverse-slope hearing loss is usually not diagnosed with a regular hearing screening. It takes the special assessment done by an audiologist to detect it. An experienced audiologist will know the signs to look for and they can include:

  1. Hearing losses of pure-tones.
  2. Extremely good speech.
  3. Poor speech perception without visual cues.
  4. High speech-detection thresholds
  5. A sensitivity to environmental sounds that are high-frequency.
  6. An inability to adjust the the standard ski-slope hearing settings.

Treatment for Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss

Treatment is necessary for reverse-slope hearing loss even if you can hear most sounds because there is a safety issue regarding the sounds you can’t hear. Sounds on the lower frequency level can include oncoming cars and other environmental sounds. Not to worry, a hearing aid can be adjusted to help you hear those sounds on the lower register again. We adjust the settings in your hearing aid so that it amplifies the lower frequencies and we recommend a hearing aid that is digital with a multichannel, nonlinear hearing option. Once you are fitted with a hearing aid that is properly adjusted for reverse-slope hearing loss, you will notice the big difference, especially with music and other environmental sounds.

Consult with the Hearing Experts at Kenwood Hearing Center

We help you deal with hearing loss during all aspects of your life and we are also here to help ensure that your hearing health can be the best it can be. Please contact us today and schedule an appointment. The experts at Kenwood Hearing Center are trained to help detect any and all types of hearing loss.

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