This Woman Woke Up With a Rare Condition That Makes Her Unable to Hear Men’s Voices

Admit it: You’ve occasionally (or more than occasionally) wished you could hit mute on the men in your life. That wish recently came true for a woman in China, but it didn’t quite happen the way it does in our dreams. She was diagnosed with a type of hearing loss that left her unable to understand low-pitched sounds, a.k.a. male voices. 

According to the Daily Mail, a Chinese woman only identified by her last name, Chen, woke up one morning unable to hear her boyfriend’s voice. Chen was also up vomiting the night before and started to notice a ringing in her ear then, so she knew something serious was going on. 

She went to Qianpu Hospital, where an ear, nose, and throat specialist Lin Xiaoqing diagnosed her with a rare form of low-frequency hearing damage called reverse-slope hearing loss (RSHL), which prevents people from hearing low-frequency sounds. 

Chen, who lives in southeastern China, is one of very few people to develop the condition. The Thigpen Hearing Center, an audiology clinic in Tennessee, states that RHSL affects only about 3,000 people in the United States and Canada. In other words, for every 12,000 cases of hearing loss, only one person has RSHL.

People with RHSL typically have no problem hearing high-frequency sounds, like voices of women and children, but they struggle to hear low-frequency noises, like vehicles, thunder, and voices over the phone.

Dr. Xiaoqing reported Chen could hear her voice perfectly fine during the appointment, but she couldn’t understand the voice of a male patient who was also at the hospital. 

Many things can cause RHSL, including genetic abnormalities and certain diseases and infections. A change in the pressure of the fluid in the inner ear has also been known to be a trigger. Dr. Xiaoqing believes Chen developed the condition because of stress and a severe lack of sleep. Thankfully, Chen is expected to make a full recovery after treatment. 

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