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Frequency hearing drop

"Hello doctors/experts,"

I read that the ability to hear high frequency sounds drops with time and age and I am aware that we have a range and I also saw graphs and documents about it.

My concern is about how the drop appears, does it change from where one lives? How much and how fast can the time/age drop? Does it depend to humidity? Weather (too cold, too warm)? Altitude? Bad habits (alcohol/beer, whisky etc., smoking/cigars etc.)? Most important, fatigue/not to much sleep (and probably still related to the weather being too warm)?

I am 30, can it be temporary and go back up during winter?

It's not a matter of life and death, I actually don't really care, the music is still good to me and if age does this it's ok but I was able to hear up to 17Khz let's say 5-6 months ago and now only up to 13Khz. Here in Phoenix 5-6 months ago was cooler than this very hot summer that's why I'm asking about the weather possibility. I've been in Arizona 6 years but I am not from here, I am from a small mountain town from the center-north of Italy, I have no idea what the desert can do to a person.

If anyone can answer, thanks.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #1

the music is still good to me
  And it very well may be  what has caused your hearing loss. Amplified music such as at a concert or club, or the use of headphones (even very inexpensive ones on a portable device) are quite capable of causing irreparable harm. Other examples include machinery and loud traffic noise. Cumulative harm can occur even when individual exposure events don't cause any "ringing" or temporary deafness, so don't use that as your indicator of there being a problem.

Always follow OSHA noise exposure time guidelines, at the very least, and wear ear protection, such as E-A-R (3M) foam ear plugs, in environments you can't control.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #2
This is why I can't explain the amount of drop, I don't even know if I am certified to say this is a drop or if I don't test properly. I didn't do anything crazy over the last year other than worry about frequency hearing drop , work and relax with few bourbons and cigars after dinner, take the dog out, concerts, no loud music, really nothing crazy at all.

When I drink bourbon I feel it's harder to "hear", like when you go underwater (this example is much amplified but the feeling I guess is the same). That's why I am asking about all the environmental factors, I still think the hot weather changes how you hear and it may be the biggest cause.

Thanks for the links.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #3
I've added to my previous post, so you may want to re-read it.

HF hearing loss is inevitable as we age but you seem to be getting it sooner than is expected. A good SPL meter, maybe this one, might be a good investment. It could be some innocuous noise you don't even think of as being "loud" is the culprit. For instance, the constant drone of an AC in your bedroom all night may break OSHA's guidelines for 8 hour < 90 dB SPL rule. Remember it is not just loud and annoying sounds that we have to look out for; long exposure for hours to more day-to-day home/work/travel (train/plane/truck) sounds can be just as bad.

[I recently learned that traffic cops and sports team coaches, both groups that blow whistles daily, are prone to hearing loss and I never see them ever wearing earplugs. They should.]

Casual testing at home can be prone to many problems. You might want to see an audiologist and get a professional's opinion.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #4
...1 year ago we moved and the air conditioning is very loud where it pulls air in from the room close to my office, the noise may be ON even 10 hours a day. I've never thought about that. I may buy that SPL meter and do few test.

Thank you again.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #5
Congestion can cause temporary hearing impairment.  I don't know about whiskey, but beer can stuff me up. Perhaps lay off for a couple of weeks and possibly take some antihistamine and decongestant and see if your HF response improves.  Follow dosage instructions and pay attention to warnings and drug interactions, especially if you have high blood pressure or prostate problems (I think I have that right).

I'd lay off the cigars too, mouth and thoat cancer aren't very fun.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #6
Thank greynol, I'll look into that as well!

I don't know how accurate the iPhone mic may be but when the A/C is on and the door is open the SPL meter tells me the noise is 63-64dB with the door open and 54-55dB with the door closed.
Tested with:
The Real SPL Meter and Logitech UE SPL

Now, this one (Studio Six Digital SPL Meter) that is supposed to be "professional" gives me 51dB with the door open and 41dB with the door closed.

Can anyone with a professional SPL Meter and an iPhone 4S test which one is most accurate? Not just for me, everyone would like to know I guess.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #7
You might find that you are allergic to the regional plants.

Also, you might want to have your ears checked and possibly have excess cerumen cleaned.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #8
I suspect that any self respecting professional is likely to tell you that an SPL meter reading cannot be counted on to mean anything if the meter has not bee properly calibrated -- quite recently. Just like any other laboratory equipment.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #9
I realized my hearing loss recently as well. Through testing at home with my computer I found that I can hear just fine (probably attenuated but I can't tell) up to 12.9KHz, but between 12.9KHz and 13KHz my sensitivity drops to 0. 13KHz might as well not exist to me, even though 12.9KHz and below is loud and clear.

I'm 41 and have been playing bass in a metal band for most of my adult life and, to be honest, listening to metal before that at stupid levels.
I spent most of my teens and 20's in a "it won't happen to me" mindset.  The last few years of my musical involvement I began using ear plugs during rehearsals due to pain and ringing. Even then I didn't use any when playing live because it didn't sound or feel right to me on stage. I'm now retired from playing music in anything other than low volume solo stuff at home.

The damage is done though.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #10
I will get my ears professionally tested, what I still think is that from 17Khz to 13Khz doing "nothing" must be temporary. I think I have to sleep better as well first of all, being tired makes the difference I can feel it.

I wanted to see what doctors have to say but without the proper test is hard to evaluate what may be the cause. Thank you all, I take every comment in consideration.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #11
I could be wrong, so correct me if I am, but I am under the impression professional testing only covers the speech range (up to about 8 KHz, IIRC). High-frequency hearing loss is not really considered a medical problem.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #12
Nonetheless, if the loss of high frequency hearing is related to a broader problem, best to get that hearing tested professionally, just in case.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #13
I could be wrong, so correct me if I am, but I am under the impression professional testing only covers the speech range (up to about 8 KHz, IIRC). High-frequency hearing loss is not really considered a medical problem.

i think I was tested up to 20 kHz (my request).
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Frequency hearing drop

Reply #14
I could be wrong, so correct me if I am, but I am under the impression professional testing only covers the speech range (up to about 8 KHz, IIRC). High-frequency hearing loss is not really considered a medical problem.

Yep, it did the last time I was checked, maybe it's different in other countries?

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #15
I have heard of loud noise from driving causing hearing loss - people who ride motorcycles, or convertibles, or even normal cars with the windows down at highway speed. My car is particularly bad in that regard. And it seems like the wind noise at 60+ MPH is especially loud at very low sub-bass frequencies which might be perceived as not very loud, when in fact there's a high sound pressure there. (Veering off into speculation now...)

I don't know that some iPhone app could be trusted with giving an accurate measurement of SPL. Even if you were to get an "offset" value from someone with an actual calibrated instrument, there's still a dozen different ways the value could be skewed between different phones. Different hardware revisions of phones that are designated the same "model", different firmware, perhaps OS or software settings (I have no idea how iOS handles this internally).

But certainly ear infections or wax buildup can cause a muffling of the ear. It could be worth looking into if you think your hearing is deteriorating.

Also - is the method you're using to test your hearing now, exactly identical to how you tested it earlier? I mean perfect. Same software used for testing. Same hardware. Same speakers/headphones. Exactly identical speaker placement and orientation. Even your head in exactly the same position (if you're using speakers). High frequencies are more directional than lower ones, especially with certain types of tweeters. So placement/orientation are very important for this test. Ideally you'd use headphones (with a known frequency response) so that the orientation of your ears to the drivers doesn't change.

If you're doing this via computer and not specialized hearing-testing hardware, that opens up an even bigger can of worms. In Windows there are typically multiple sliders used to control output volume. Other options that are non-obvious ("sound enhancement" etc) can possibly come into play. Even updating your sound drivers could potentially change things. If your volume level's changed for any reason over the months, it might not be valid to compare the two tests.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #16
It's not a matter of life and death, I actually don't really care, the music is still good to me and if age does this it's ok but I was able to hear up to 17Khz let's say 5-6 months ago and now only up to 13Khz. Here in Phoenix 5-6 months ago was cooler than this very hot summer that's why I'm asking about the weather possibility. I've been in Arizona 6 years but I am not from here, I am from a small mountain town from the center-north of Italy, I have no idea what the desert can do to a person.

Not sure if it's a coincidence but I have had a similar experience. 
When I lived or visited countries with a dry climates I had a problem with an earwax. It becomes dry and not easy to remove during a bath. The climate is very humid here in Argentina and that's why I literally feel that an earwax is fluid. Also I've noticed (side) effect of an antibacterial solid soap for skin, it completely disintegrates an earwax. 

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #17
This is a very important topic to us. Rarely I stop and post something. I won't cite things but I spend hours a day studying and working with preventative medicine and regeneration. Mind you my focus hasn't been ear health so far, so I'll only drum up some leads. I hope someone with a real bio background explains more as this whole realm of auditory enjoyment is diminished if our hearing doesn't stay top notch. I strongly believe hearing can be restored after having been damaged, and hearing damage can be avoided.

As I understand, hearing loss is related not to the initial exposure to the sound, but to imperfect healing of shocked tissues. In general, lasting damage and dysfunction (e.g. scarring) in living tissue is caused by an excessive inflammatory response, which signals and triggers/supports rapid healing. With something like the cochlea, one does not need rapid healing, such as with a bleeding cut or wound, the type of damage our body has evolved to deal with, but slow, careful, perfect reconstruction of the tissue. Inflammatory immune response is damaging to surrounding tissues - where physical healing happens, for example, some processes typical to external skin wounds happen as well. If you cut yourself, while the wound heals, white blood cells rush to the wound as well, and release peroxides and other chemically harsh products which, while controlling a major problem like potential infection, damage surrounding tissue slightly. This concept is expressed greatly in digestive allergy. An individual with a soy allergy, who eats a meal of soy, has the immune response to the food (within the intestine) triggered. Immune system cells move to the intestine, and metaphorically attack the food as if it was a horrible invading bacterium. As a result, the intestinal wall gets damaged and worn out, leading to malabsorption of nutrients.


"Scientists believe that, depending on the type of noise, the pure force of vibrations from the noise can cause hearing loss. Recent studies also show that exposure to harmful noise levels triggers the formation of molecules inside the ear that damage hair cells and result in NIHL." The molecules formed are from the immune system reacting to physical force exerted on tissue, in response to what the brute, mechanical system understands was the equivalent of a cut or scratch you just received from a dirty rock outside.

How does one lower inflammatory response? Well, inflammatory response is mediated very strongly by the quantity of phytochemicals ingested. To put it plainly, getting your fruits and vegetables reduces the severity of the inflammatory response to damage anywhere in the body. Inflammation isn't a "there or not" thing, it is constantly active at a low level everywhere, in most tissues, and actually contributes strongly to aging, and mental degeneration.

I don't know how related this is specifically, but there is a product on the market containing flavinoids (a big category of plant chemicals) that shows amazing results for treating Meniere's disease, which is characterized by nausea and low-pitched ear-ringing (tinnitus) as well as inflammation-associated hearing loss. Patients taking one formulation called "Lipo-Flavinoid" containing citrus ingredients improved hearing in 40% of patients, and this is hypothesized to be because of anti-histaminergic effects (histamine triggers and signals the inflammatory response). Therefore the suggestion to try an anti-histamine was a good one; it has two-fold action - clearing the various sinuses and tunnels within the ear, and reducing the constant, low-grade inflammation in the ear.

Diet alone can shift the strength of your inflammatory response way over - for example, olive oil itself is anti-inflammatory. But the most important thing here is to realize that allergenic response to food is also not black-and-white. Foods considered commonly "allergenic" such as peanuts, soy, milk, wheat are in fact allergenic across the board. The variation in strength of inflammatory reaction, and perception of this reaction is what makes one's diagnosis severe or not. When meat is cooked (protein subjected to heat) pro-inflammatory compounds called beta-carbolines form. When a human eats cooked meat, across the board it is found that there is an immune response to the stomach contents - white blood cells are seen to literally rush and conglomerate in the stomach area in a scan. Raw or unburnt meat does not provoke such a strong response, despite actually having a small amount of unsavory organisms present. This means that having casein (dairy), gluten (wheat), many artificial chemicals (food additives, or products of food refinement/processing) shifts the body's general inflammation level up, making it harder for tissues to heal nicely, and causing low level damage throughout all tissues.

"You are what you eat" is completely true. There is no part of you made of anything except for what you've put into your mouth and lungs and on your skin (often overlooked). As your ears repair after exposure to noise, they use what you just ate to rebuild.

Now, in the case of regeneration, it's a little harder to speak for sure as a lot of it is still within research and hypothetical stages. Some have said that any tissue rebuilds given some conditions:

One is that any damage holding back the regeneration (which is usually very very slow) stops, which means completely eliminating inflammation. This means cutting things that contribute to the general state of low grade inflammation. Find your specifics; an easy way is to notice which meals make you tired. Find the common element (bread, dairy, eggs) and cut that one out. You are intolerant to the food if it makes you excessively tired after eating it. A big contributor to inflammation is a bad fatty acid ratio. More omega-3's are needed in the average diet and the quantity of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids needs to be cut tenfold. w-6 fat (prevalent in common vegetable oil) literally converts into inflammation-promoting hormones in metabolism. w-3 are present in fish products. Cod liver oil is an incredible substance and contains some interesting anti-inflammatory compounds.

The next is to provide to the body the nutrients required to rebuild the issue, which means high quality protein (not what people generally think) and all necessary vitamins, minerals and co-factors to signal and allow the healing. After having exposure to a loud sound, as the damage to the hairs in the ear is fixed, the material it is rebuilt and reshaped from changes whether scar tissue is present, or material identical to the original. A measure known as protein quality describes the digestibility, and usability of ingested protein for the body. Fruits and veggies have better protein than meat, despite having much less of it. Note that the tallest, most muscular animals are herbivores.

So, my somewhat unexactlysubstantiated prescription for hearing loss and prevention:

Identify and cut out specifically allergenic foods, and avoid ones generally allergenic (like starchy fries soaked in w-6 predominant oil)
Get your plants.
Eat more plants.
Eat your plants.
Eat good proteins like fish, nuts..
^^ This dietary approach biologically considered the best source of nutrients, while contributing the smallest amount of inflammation possible and mediating actual damage-triggered inflammation in a good way is known as the "paleolithic" diet.
De-stress as this can shoot inflammatory response to a normal trigger (such as a loud noise) through the roof.
Focus, mentally, on the ears, while doing all of this. While falling asleep, meditating, etc. Focus on your ears and brain and nerves which carry all the information, mentally ask and direct the nutrients and attention and love to them. Don't ask me, but there's enough evidence of cancer being healed or made worse by the attitude of the patient. This is trotting onto the grounds of spirituality and energy which while unproven scientifically, has a ton of anecdotal evidence. It has been shown that focusing on an area of the body increases blood flow to that area. (ha, ha.)

All this is general health advice. I found it funny as I write something specific to ears, all details apart from ear-specific nutrients and phytochemicals apply to healing almost everything. Look at joint health - doctors may prescribe forceful anti-inflammatory medicines and pain killers for joint health, while a food-based treatment, a combination of the substances glucosamine and chondroitin, have shown exceptional results in treating and rebuilding joints. These two things are what cartilage and joint material are made of. You are what you eat.

I've gone far off course but if it helps even one person it was worth it.

A side discussion: The few times I've drank at concerts, I left with much ringier ears than ever. It is the liquid-thinning effect, making the sensory hairs softer? The music wasn't louder than any other shows. Only alcohol ever caused this.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #18
I've seen reports from surfers and whitewater kayakers that cold water exposure  can cause gradual hearing loss and a recommendation of ear plugs for those activities, at least  in conditions where you would wear temperature protection for the rest of your body.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #19
The funny part is your brain/ears continually adjust to environmental conditions throughout the day. For example I drive truck for a living, after 12 hours in a noisy semi I cant hear tones above 12khz, yet under normal conditions I can hear 17khz easily. Yet my music still sounds the same. Scientific studies have shown that even under normal conditions we start to experience high frequency loss in our 30s and that normal adult hearing is more like 30-15khz. But take heart! There are only 8 notes between 10khz and 20khz ie a single octave of harmomics/digital noise hardly audible to dogs or bats let alone humans during music playback. Its not worth obsessing over since its an unavoidable fact of life. Granted its still adviseable to wear earprotection in noisy environments to prevent long term damage in the important ranges.

Frequency hearing drop

Reply #20
That's in fact what I am thinking, my hearing is adapting to the Arizona climate and also I'll be 31 in a month. No big deal of course, I just wanted to know if weather can affect frequency hearing.

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