Hearing Loss & Valsalva Maneuver: Looking for Information

Posted by chasmayhear @chasmayhear, Jun 10, 2020

I'm an older man and have one issue that I am looking for information on. My hearing was recently diagnosed with hearing loss, especially of the higher frequencies. I was told that my hearing test indicated nerve hearing loss common for my age. I had gotten a CAT scan looking for other issues.

If I pressurize my ears (Valsalva Maneuver, I believe) there is a great but brief improvement in my higher frequency response. I was seeing an ear specialist and asked him about it. There was no available information.

I find that hearing the high frequency sound response improve so strongly from simply pressurizing my ears does not seem consistent with 'nerve hearing loss'.

I have tried searching and get nowhere. I noted that the carotid artery passes next to my ear and that the Valsalva Maneuver has some complex effects on blood pressure. What is known about this?

If you have any information that might apply please post.

Chas

online sound tone generator

The online sound tone generator has a warning. It recommends setting the loudness at 1000Hz using the loudness slide and then never using the loudness slide to increase the volume to hear. If you increase the volume too much the possibility of ear damage exists. There are specific directions and a warning stated.

I wanted to measure the sound frequency that Valsalva affects.

I had some success in finding a way. I found a sound tone generator link on the internet. You can generate a tone from below the ear's range to above it. I found that Valsalva had no effect on the lower frequencies and improved higher frequencies.

In addition, the online tone generator can act as a crude hearing tester. I can hear it at some frequency and can't hear it at a higher frequency with the online sound tone generator with its settings and my uncalibrated computer speakers. There is no decibel scale such as a calibrated hearing test has.
I could hear 150-4650hz normally.
With Valsava, I could hear 7000 and barely hear 7300 Hz.

My wife and I compared her hearing and mine at the high end using the same set up.
She could hear to above 10,500 Hz.

Note- Valsalva is pressurizing blood vessels and I have had warnings that it should not be done without understanding precautions or too much or too forcefully.
_____________________________________________________________________

Audio Spectrum Analyzer

I have a problem when listening to TV. Loud annoying background music is often played that makes speech difficult to understand. I wanted to have some idea of the frequency distribution of the loud background music. A audio spectrum analyzer seemed what I needed. The fellow that created the online sound tone generator suggested Spectroid. This is a free Google Play app that works on my Android phone. I just said "Spectroid" to the Google search box and installed it. It is free.

Wow! It's perfect for what I wanted.

I learned more in the last few days about some important sound features than in the rest of my life. I learned that the human voice and some musical instruments produce octaves of sound frequencies. One lowest frequency is doubled again and again so that the frequencies are f, 2f, 4f, 8f, 16 f. etc until there is no longer power in the next octave. The Audio Spectrum Analyzer shows you this each time you produce a sound. It has to do with the length of the air column in your neck and how it vibrates, A guitar string does the same thing with a vibrating string. Have you ever wet your finger and rubbed it around of a whine glass. It eventually makes a resonate sound. The spectrum analyzer show that and some octaves. Sing – Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti and it shows steps for each of those words. Start the next "Do" at a higher frequency and the steps all move to higher frequencies. Easy to understand when you see it. I did not understand octaves before a few days ago.

This would be a great and informative thing for anyone that wants to find out about the sound around them, especially why they are having problems with hearing.

Before I would ask my wife if the background music was louder than the speech. She would say that it was loud but that she could understand it. I see when the back ground music starts and it produces a lot of sounds that make it hard to see the speech. I see what I believe are the loud piano keys playing in the spectrum analyzer's frequency vs time display.

I have learned a good bit in the last week and will be showing this to my grand children as soon as I understand it better,

I hope that someone gives this spectrum analyzer a try, especially if they are having hearing issues.

Let me know if you have any questions.

REPLY

@chasmayhear I didn't realize they had a name for what your are calling Valsalva maneuver. It seems to be the same as when you sneeze but don't want anyone to hear it. I never hold a sneeze back, but I have "popped" my ears. Yes, it improves the hearing, but it's only temporary and not limited to the high frequencies. Maybe you'll get a good response in the ENT forum??? A blocked Eustachian tube is one cause but there are probably better solutions. Another cause could be the muscle that attaches to the eardrum. It's the ears self-defense mechanism to try to prevent damage. It helps to limit the amount that the eardrum can move. Let us know if you've gotten any additional information.
Tony in Michigan

REPLY
@tonyinmi

@chasmayhear I didn't realize they had a name for what your are calling Valsalva maneuver. It seems to be the same as when you sneeze but don't want anyone to hear it. I never hold a sneeze back, but I have "popped" my ears. Yes, it improves the hearing, but it's only temporary and not limited to the high frequencies. Maybe you'll get a good response in the ENT forum??? A blocked Eustachian tube is one cause but there are probably better solutions. Another cause could be the muscle that attaches to the eardrum. It's the ears self-defense mechanism to try to prevent damage. It helps to limit the amount that the eardrum can move. Let us know if you've gotten any additional information.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

Hi
I didnt understand the comment abt the eustacian tube It interests me bec my ent said they shrink and thats the pressure i feel there also suggest using nasal decongestant-might be flonase?
Also at my age (69) surgery is not usually done (as they do for children)
I dont find the spray helpful
For two yrs i have had tinnitus. As it gets louder my hearing deteriorates.
I am unaware of any communication problems due to hearing loss. I was unaware if any serious issue other than transient tinnitus. so was suprized when he offered me hearing aides!

Yawning temporarily cuts down the degree of tinnitus. Maybe thats a pressure exchange like whats mentioned above.

Of all the things i have ever lost hearing may be the one i will miss the most.

REPLY
@chasmayhear

online sound tone generator

The online sound tone generator has a warning. It recommends setting the loudness at 1000Hz using the loudness slide and then never using the loudness slide to increase the volume to hear. If you increase the volume too much the possibility of ear damage exists. There are specific directions and a warning stated.

I wanted to measure the sound frequency that Valsalva affects.

I had some success in finding a way. I found a sound tone generator link on the internet. You can generate a tone from below the ear's range to above it. I found that Valsalva had no effect on the lower frequencies and improved higher frequencies.

In addition, the online tone generator can act as a crude hearing tester. I can hear it at some frequency and can't hear it at a higher frequency with the online sound tone generator with its settings and my uncalibrated computer speakers. There is no decibel scale such as a calibrated hearing test has.
I could hear 150-4650hz normally.
With Valsava, I could hear 7000 and barely hear 7300 Hz.

My wife and I compared her hearing and mine at the high end using the same set up.
She could hear to above 10,500 Hz.

Note- Valsalva is pressurizing blood vessels and I have had warnings that it should not be done without understanding precautions or too much or too forcefully.
_____________________________________________________________________

Audio Spectrum Analyzer

I have a problem when listening to TV. Loud annoying background music is often played that makes speech difficult to understand. I wanted to have some idea of the frequency distribution of the loud background music. A audio spectrum analyzer seemed what I needed. The fellow that created the online sound tone generator suggested Spectroid. This is a free Google Play app that works on my Android phone. I just said "Spectroid" to the Google search box and installed it. It is free.

Wow! It's perfect for what I wanted.

I learned more in the last few days about some important sound features than in the rest of my life. I learned that the human voice and some musical instruments produce octaves of sound frequencies. One lowest frequency is doubled again and again so that the frequencies are f, 2f, 4f, 8f, 16 f. etc until there is no longer power in the next octave. The Audio Spectrum Analyzer shows you this each time you produce a sound. It has to do with the length of the air column in your neck and how it vibrates, A guitar string does the same thing with a vibrating string. Have you ever wet your finger and rubbed it around of a whine glass. It eventually makes a resonate sound. The spectrum analyzer show that and some octaves. Sing – Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti and it shows steps for each of those words. Start the next "Do" at a higher frequency and the steps all move to higher frequencies. Easy to understand when you see it. I did not understand octaves before a few days ago.

This would be a great and informative thing for anyone that wants to find out about the sound around them, especially why they are having problems with hearing.

Before I would ask my wife if the background music was louder than the speech. She would say that it was loud but that she could understand it. I see when the back ground music starts and it produces a lot of sounds that make it hard to see the speech. I see what I believe are the loud piano keys playing in the spectrum analyzer's frequency vs time display.

I have learned a good bit in the last week and will be showing this to my grand children as soon as I understand it better,

I hope that someone gives this spectrum analyzer a try, especially if they are having hearing issues.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Jump to this post

You are quite clever!

REPLY
@siosal

Hi
I didnt understand the comment abt the eustacian tube It interests me bec my ent said they shrink and thats the pressure i feel there also suggest using nasal decongestant-might be flonase?
Also at my age (69) surgery is not usually done (as they do for children)
I dont find the spray helpful
For two yrs i have had tinnitus. As it gets louder my hearing deteriorates.
I am unaware of any communication problems due to hearing loss. I was unaware if any serious issue other than transient tinnitus. so was suprized when he offered me hearing aides!

Yawning temporarily cuts down the degree of tinnitus. Maybe thats a pressure exchange like whats mentioned above.

Of all the things i have ever lost hearing may be the one i will miss the most.

Jump to this post

When I listen to TV, the loud background music makes the speech very difficult to understand. Now, after many frustrating months of nothing, I am able to hear & SEE the background music and hear & SEE the speech together. When the background music is not there, I can SEE the speech sounds with the audio frequency analyzer, it is much cleaner. I have a way to figure out what is going on for the first time. The background music does appear to be significant and probably louder than the speech as shown by the audio frequency analyzer.

The Dr recommended a hearing aid for me in early 2020. I expect the hearing aid will also make the background music, already too loud, much louder. I am reluctant to get a hearing aid until I better understand the Valsalva issue.

When I asked the Dr about the Valsalva and my hearing, there was no information available, except a warning that I should not do a lot of Valsalva for some reason.

I recommend that everyone try Spectroid on their smart phones, if only to show sounds to their grand children as they are hearing them.

REPLY
@tonyinmi

@chasmayhear I didn't realize they had a name for what your are calling Valsalva maneuver. It seems to be the same as when you sneeze but don't want anyone to hear it. I never hold a sneeze back, but I have "popped" my ears. Yes, it improves the hearing, but it's only temporary and not limited to the high frequencies. Maybe you'll get a good response in the ENT forum??? A blocked Eustachian tube is one cause but there are probably better solutions. Another cause could be the muscle that attaches to the eardrum. It's the ears self-defense mechanism to try to prevent damage. It helps to limit the amount that the eardrum can move. Let us know if you've gotten any additional information.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

What is the "ENT forum"?

REPLY
@chasmayhear

What is the "ENT forum"?

Jump to this post

Tonyinmi is suggesting that you take this conversation to the ENT (Ear, Nose Throat) conversation. I encourage you to do that too.

REPLY

@chasmayhear, no need for you to do anything. As a moderator I was able to add this discussion to the Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) group as @tonyinmi and @julieo4 suggested. Here is a link to the ENT group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/ear-nose-throat-conditions/

That means that this discussion appears in both the Hearing Loss group and the ENT group. Members who follow one or the other group will see this discussion in their notifications.

REPLY
@siosal

Hi
I didnt understand the comment abt the eustacian tube It interests me bec my ent said they shrink and thats the pressure i feel there also suggest using nasal decongestant-might be flonase?
Also at my age (69) surgery is not usually done (as they do for children)
I dont find the spray helpful
For two yrs i have had tinnitus. As it gets louder my hearing deteriorates.
I am unaware of any communication problems due to hearing loss. I was unaware if any serious issue other than transient tinnitus. so was suprized when he offered me hearing aides!

Yawning temporarily cuts down the degree of tinnitus. Maybe thats a pressure exchange like whats mentioned above.

Of all the things i have ever lost hearing may be the one i will miss the most.

Jump to this post

@siosal The Eustachian tube keeps equal pressure between the outer ear and middle ear. If the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, the pressure is unequal and the eardrum is prevented from moving like it should. I did not know that it shrinks so thanks for that tidbit. It will warrant more research. I use Flonase on an occasional basis. It helps with my allergies. I use it if I don't want people thinking I have Covid, unfortunately.
It's interesting that you say that yawning helps with the tinnitus. I have not heard that either. Have you had your hearing tested? Hearing aids help tinnitus by increasing the ambient sounds more than what is internally generated.
Tony in Michigan

REPLY
@tonyinmi

@siosal The Eustachian tube keeps equal pressure between the outer ear and middle ear. If the Eustachian tube becomes blocked, the pressure is unequal and the eardrum is prevented from moving like it should. I did not know that it shrinks so thanks for that tidbit. It will warrant more research. I use Flonase on an occasional basis. It helps with my allergies. I use it if I don't want people thinking I have Covid, unfortunately.
It's interesting that you say that yawning helps with the tinnitus. I have not heard that either. Have you had your hearing tested? Hearing aids help tinnitus by increasing the ambient sounds more than what is internally generated.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

Hi
I am not sure of my terminology, ie shrinking.
Really exaggerating a yawn seems to help temporarily for me.
I am beginning to have hearing loss extending into our speech sounds. I was told that as you lose hearing tinnitus is the brain trying to fill in.

I am not yet aware of any communication issues so I am not rushing out to get the hearing aides but I am sure I will have to in the future.

Thank you for your reply.

REPLY
@siosal

Hi
I am not sure of my terminology, ie shrinking.
Really exaggerating a yawn seems to help temporarily for me.
I am beginning to have hearing loss extending into our speech sounds. I was told that as you lose hearing tinnitus is the brain trying to fill in.

I am not yet aware of any communication issues so I am not rushing out to get the hearing aides but I am sure I will have to in the future.

Thank you for your reply.

Jump to this post

@siosal Yes, losing hearing is only one cause of tinnitus. I experience it just about every night when I take my hearing aids out so you're right about the brain filling in for what it is expecting.
I could not find anything about the Eustachian tube shrinking by doing a Google search. It would not surprise me if something like that happens though. It would seem that a shrinkage would not necessarily cause a blockage problem, which typically opens when we yawn or swallow.
Regarding you perception of losing speech sounds, you may not want to wait too long to address the problem. Hearing only gets worse as we age. It never gets better on its own. Hearing aids only help a bigger problem.
Thanks for sharing your input. It kept me thinking
Tony in Michigan

REPLY

I read that under some circumstances, the tinnitus one person is hearing can be heard by other people. Of course, that tinnitus would not be very loud and probably a stethoscope was used. If that is true, some Tinnitus would be accompanied by a real sound, Then a sensitive audio spectrum analyzer could record interesting and useful sounds from tinnitus. Has that been done?

Any information or publications on actually hearing sounds that accompany some cases of tinnitus?

When I have Spectroid running on my smart phone and place my thumb over the microphone, it produces a signal in the spectrum analyzer. The frequency shows strongest from 23-170 Hz. Is this a real sound on an artifact? This is one thing of many that I'm trying to understand with the new Spectroid audio frequency analyzer. There is an audio spectrum analyzer for iPhones and iPads called "Spectrum".

REPLY
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