Jan 2019 Daily Mail Australia
A woman has been diagnosed with a type of hearing loss which means she can't hear the voices of men - only women. The patient, who has only been identified by her surname, Chen, woke up to find she was unable to hear her boyfriend. Ms Chen, from the city Xiamen, on the east coast of China, went straight to hospital.
Doctors tried to figure out her bizarre symptoms, which were the opposite to more common forms of hearing loss.
A specialist diagnosed her with reverse-slope hearing loss, in which she could only hear high frequencies. The condition is believed to affect only one in nearly 13,000 patients with hearing problems, according to figures. It was possible that stress may have contributed to the condition, the doctors said. Ms Chen reportedly had been suffering from nausea and ringing in her ears the night before her ordeal. She believed a good night sleep would solve the problem, and went to bed with her boyfriend. But the next morning, she was shocked to find she was unable to hear her partner talk.
She was able to hear every word the female ENT, according to Dr Lin Xiaoqing, who treated Ms Chen. Dr Xiaoqing said: 'She was able to hear me when I spoke to her, but when a young male patient walked in, she couldn't hear him at all.’ She diagnosed her with 'low-frequency hearing loss', or reverse-slope hearing loss, explaining why she was unable to hear deeper sounds. This condition is normally difficult to diagnose because both medics and patients may be unaware it exists. It can be caused by genetics, meaning people have never been able to hear lower sounds - such as the hum of a fridge. The patient revealed she had been working late recently, putting her body under a lot of stress and not getting enough sleep. Dr Xiaoqing believes fatigue and the added stress of long days may have contributed to the condition. The ENT specialist revealed it is important to treat such symptoms quickly, and said that she expected Ms Chen to make a full recovery.
Symptoms include difficulty understanding speech on the phone, as volume normally comes from lower frequencies, ease understanding women and children but not men, and inability to hear low-frequency environmental sounds such as thunder and a refrigerator humming. RSHL can be difficult to treat as manufacturer-recommended hearing aid settings are meant for high-frequency hearing loss - which millions of people have. It gets it's name from the fact it shows the opposite graphical representation on an audiogram to the more common high-frequency hearing loss. It's distinct appearance looks the opposite of a ski slope, starting in the lower-left-hand corner and sloping upward steeply. RSHL is very rare, which you may have guessed from the unusual headline. It is estimated to have affected around 3,000 people in the United States and Canada — which would mean only one case of RSHL for every 12,000 cases of hearing loss.