Low frequency hearing loss has two main causes, which depend where in your ear the problem starts. These are:
Conductive - which is caused by problems in your middle ear.
Sensorineural - which is caused by damage to your inner ear, particularly to your auditory nerve, cochlea or the hair cells that help transmit sound waves to your brain.
Conductive low frequency hearing loss often happens as a result of problems like:
- Secretory otitis media - where an infection causes fluid to build up in the middle ear, and prevents your eardrum from vibrating properly
- Otosclerosis - where your stapes bone (a bone in your middle ear) overgrows. This can be caused by autoimmune problems, genetics and viral infections
Sensorineural low frequency hearing loss is usually caused by:
- Ménière’s disease - a disease caused by a build-up of fluid in the inner ear, which, alongside low frequency hearing loss, can also cause tinnitus and vertigo
- Genetic mutations - genetic diseases such as Wolfram syndrome and Mondini dysplasia can affect hearing
- Ramsay Hunt Syndrome - a disease caused by the herpes zoster virus infecting the facial nerve
- Sudden loss of hearing - this can cause vertigo, tinnitus and low frequency hearing loss
- Age - hearing changes with age, and this relates to low frequency sounds as well as high frequency sounds
If you’ve noticed any change in your hearing, whether it’s come on suddenly following a period of illness, or is something that’s happened gradually, it’s important to speak to your doctor to address any underlying cause.