High Frequency Hearing Loss
Q: Last spring, I went to bed one night with perfectly good hearing, and woke
up the next morning with a loud annoying buzz in my ears. The noise hasn't gone
away since, and it continues 24 hours a day. I haven't had a moment's silence
in nearly a year, and I'm exhausted after so many virtually sleepless nights!
My doctor conducted a hearing test and told me I have high frequency hearing
loss. Can that really happen overnight, and is there anything I can do to stop
Dr. Donnica: Sudden hearing loss is much more common that you'd
think. It affects about one in every 5000 Americans each year. The cause is
unknown, but is often attributed to a nonspecific virus or a vascular cause.
In addition, aging and prolonged exposure to loud noise are common causes. The
hearing loss is usually profound, but may return partially or completely in
about two thirds of those affected.
Regrettably, there is no specific treatment, much to the frustration of those
affected and the healthcare professionals who treat them. The good news is that
this does not often affect the ability to interpret speech, which is usually
in the low to mid-pitch frequency range. However, the missing high-frequency
information interferes with word understanding. If this is your experience,
you should meet with an audiologist to discuss strategies for coping with this
Created: 10/25/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.