Hearing Loss & Valsalva Maneuver: Looking for Information
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.
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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.
@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
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.
You are quite clever!
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.
What is the "ENT forum"?
Tonyinmi is suggesting that you take this conversation to the ENT (Ear, Nose Throat) conversation. I encourage you to do that too.
@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.