Even further, hearing loss can come in different ranges of severity, and some frequencies may be more affected by hearing loss than others. Depending on the frequency of the hearing loss, a hearing loss will show up in different ways on an audiogram. For example, there is high-frequency hearing loss, low-frequency hearing loss, and mid-frequency hearing loss otherwise known as cookie bit hearing loss.
How do different types of frequencies show up on an audiogram? An audiogram is a standardized chart hearing care professionals use to enter in hearing thresholds and other auditory measurements. It also a baseline for a hearing aid fitting.
With a high-frequency hearing loss, one may notice more difficulty understanding female and children’s voices compared to male voices, as well as difficulty hearing the birds sing. A high-frequency hearing loss may also be referred to as a ski-slope hearing loss because of how it is shaped when entered into an audiogram.
With a low-frequency hearing loss, one may find it difficult to understand male voices and may perceive music as too tinny. This type of hearing loss may be described as a reverse-slope hearing loss.
A mid-frequency hearing loss is often described as a cookie bite hearing loss. It looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it when charted on an audiogram. However, the name is misleading as there is nothing “sweet” about this type of hearing loss. Let’s talk further about a cookie bite hearing loss, and how it impacts overall hearing.
According to research published in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology, a cookie bite hearing loss is usually sensorineural and hereditary. A sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent hearing loss, resulting from damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve. However, there can be other reasons for the cause, such as a benign tumor, known as acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma. This type of tumor develops on the main nerve from the inner ear to the brain.
A cookie bite hearing loss affects the mid-frequency range of hearing. Usually, this doesn’t impact high-frequency hearing and low-frequency hearing. As a result, some sounds may seem louder, while others may seem muted or dull, leading to an uneven, confusing interpretation of sound in the surrounding environment.
A lot of human speech sounds and music fall into this mid-range, putting a strain on social interactions. Following a conversation, listening to the TV, or listening to music at a standard volume level may be difficult. You may experience reduced clarity.
An audiological assessment helps to determine the diagnosis of a cookie bite hearing loss. If the loss is congenital, meaning something you are born with, then this may be first discovered when your child has a hearing test. If the loss develops over time, it may take longer for individuals to realize their hearing has worsened. This can result in a delay in seeking treatment. In this case, the people around you, the ones you communicate the most with, may suspect your difficulties in hearing before you make the realization.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for sensorineural hearing loss. There are no medications or surgeries to restore the hearing back to normal. However, there are treatment options available to improve your hearing situation. For instance, changing your communication habits and/or wearing hearing aids.
Changes to communication habits include the use of visual cues, adapting where you sit at a table or in a classroom, and reducing unnecessary background noises. Hearing aids can be programmed and personalized to the individual’s prescription and hearing needs. Incorporating these adaptations can improve quality of life, reconnect individuals to their hearing world, and reduce the negative effects that can come with hearing loss.
All in all, not all hearing losses are the same. Treatment will depend on the type of hearing loss and your listening needs. If you notice difficulties with communication or you feel your hearing ability has changed, have your hearing checked. Receiving routine hearing care and working together with a hearing care professional will help to determine a solution most suitable for you.