Jan 14, 2019 I Paul Seaburn

Woman With Mysterious Condition Can’t Hear the Voices of Men

“She thought she was tired and needed a good night’s sleep. However, when she woke up in the morning she was shocked to discover that she couldn’t hear her partner.”

So begins the strange story of a woman in China who woke up one recent morning and found she could no longer hear the voice of her male partner. Upon going the hospital, she learned that this was a selective hearing loss, and the people her ears selected not to hear were … men! While women argue whether this is a blessing or a curse, let’s take a look at the mysterious condition this woman has … and whether she’s willing to sell her blood.

“'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.”

Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Lin Xiaoqing at the Qianpu Hospital in Xiamen was the first to examine the woman, who was identified only as Ms. Chen. According to the Daily Mail (sorry -- no Chinese sources of the story show up in searches, although the photos are attributed to AsiaWire), Ms. Chen was fortunate that Dr. Xiaoqing was an ENT specialist and a woman who could hear her describe the problem and was able to research and diagnose the rare cause -- low-frequency hearing loss or reverse-slope hearing loss.

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Can you hear me now?

Most people have barely heard (no pun intended) about high-frequency hearing loss, which is a more common condition where a person has a hard time hearing high-frequency sounds like the voices of women and children. An audiogram (a graph showing the results of a pure-tone hearing test) of high-frequency hearing loss starts high in the upper-left-hand corner of the graph and drops down like a ski-slope. In the rarer low-frequency hearing loss, the audiogram runs upward instead – hence the name “reverse-slope” hearing loss. How rare? Among people diagnosed with hearing problems, only one in 13,000 has reverse-slope hearing loss, which can cut out the low-frequency sounds of thunder, cars, hums and, of course, men.

How did Ms. Chen become an unlucky (yes, ladies, we know that’s debatable) sufferer of this rare condition? According to Newsweek, it can be caused by a genetic condition called Mondini dysplasia which results in an incomplete cochlea (that spiral cavity in the containing the organ which produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations); a disease like Ménière’s which affects the hair cells in the inner ear; or a shift in the pressure of ear fluid from general anesthetia, a perilymphatic fistula (an abnormal opening in the ear) or intracranial hypertension caused by pressure in the central nervous system.

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Is this condition really a problem?

That last one may be closest to what caused the condition in Ms. Chen. Dr. Xiaoqing reported that she had been suffering from nausea and ringing in her ears that was attributed to a lack of sleep caused by workplace stress. Based on that, the recommended treatment was rest, more sleep and perhaps a change in jobs.


Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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