Dirt/wax induced high frequency hearing loss? (go in for update)

(Follow up with update down below, comment 9)

For months now I’ve been having clear signs of HFHL. Suffering from bad distortion in high frequency sibilance, mainly with female speech. From research I’ve learned sibilance (“sss”, “shh”, " tss") lives around 2-10Khz. This problem has gotten worse lately to the point that I find it hard to enjoy TV/movies. I hear the distortion in real interaction too, but less bothersome.

I’ve learned that this distortion could be caused by HFHL. Sibilance can sound faint to one and piercing distortion to another. Hearing test came clear but I don’t trust it’s efficiency as it checks your ability to hear the frequencies but can’t tell if you hear them louder/distorted.

Over the years I’ve never taken care of my ears. From noise exposure to lack of hygiene. 20 years I’ve been with tinnitus but never drove me mad like this distorted sibilance thing.

I’ve read at times HFHL can be caused by earwax and might be reversible. I’ve always heard not to use cotton swabs in ears so I am going to DR again in a few days.

I know no one can give me a certified answer. But I am just looking for a bit of hope. Could it be that I have this issue because of build up in ears and once the DR sucks it out with his drill, I could hear normally again?

This might help.

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Appreciate that, but how does that help?

Besides, sibilance (for example “sss”) lives well beyond 5Khz, it can surely reach 9Khz and even hit 10Khz in some cases. It’s supposedly the most harsh between 5-8Khz.

I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do with the photo?

The picture (speech banana) shows what sounds occur at what frequencies and confirms that the “s” sound occurs around 5khz. IF your hearing test was from a professional, they would have looked in your ears first to check for wax. High frequency loss would more likely cause the inability to hear the “s” sound. It sounds like you’ve just been guessing. Yes, see your doctor and unless that resolves everything, see a hearing care professional.


This is why I posted the picture. 2-10 kHz is a very broad. Just showing you where your S sounds come from.

Cerumen plugs usually cause low tone conductive loss of about 20 db (more or less). When you go to the doctor, tell him you concerns and request a referral to a hearing test.

Ok I went to the DR and coincidentally before the appointment my ear started aching a few days, real bad. And then I noticed my right ear is blocked and I can barely hear through it (but tinnitus is loud and clear).

Today DR removed excessive wax in right ear but despite the ear feeling better the hearing is impaired and tinnitus as loud as F…

Am I doomed? Did the wax blocking my canal for so long caused permanent hearing loss? I assume it’s not going to gradually improve if it didn’t after the cleaning.

Shame I didn’t take care of my ears properly over the years. All my issues were probably preventable.

You are not “doomed” unless you choose to be doomed. Go see a hearing professional. If you’re in the US and money is an issue, Costco is a good place to start.


I agree with the other poster and would recommend you see an audiologist. A lot of times hearing aids can help relieve tinnitus to some extent. Where are you located?

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I should have posted follow up. Here it is:

So, after two DRs said my ears were fine (I asked them both to inspect my ears), and after taking a hearing test including ultra high tones, and after begging one DR to authorize hearing aids for me and him saying “your test is fine get the hell out of here”, I was in total frustration realizing this is going to be my reality for the rest of my life. On one hand I suffer from extreme distortion of HF sibilance, unable to carry on a proper conversation or able to relax with a movie. On the other hand my hearing in general is in the norm. But what hearing test can check distortion? It only checks ability. Oh and I met with an audiologist that said there’s no solution and that he’s never heard of sibilance distortion.

So I got up about 10 days ago with worsening ear pain in right ear so had to check it and decided I was gonna make a desperate last effort. I will go to a third DR and tell him to use that tube and suck out whatever is in my ears. DR looked in left ear and said wow, your ear is in near complete blockage. He cleaned them and afterwards I felt no different so was real sad my last effort was also a goner. However, I did use the spray he gave me (Clean Ears Naveh) for melting wax.

Next few days I experience fluctuations in ear opening and closing. Then I was on my couch watching news, several days after seeing DR, and something felt strange. I was able to follow the text. I realized the sibilance distortion is still there, but it’s reduced!

Long story short (yeah it’s already long), day to day after that the situation improved. Distortion reduced further and further down. Sound quality going up and up, affecting even low frequencies. I still have some slight distortion in certain frequencies but it is totally tolerable. Maybe that will disappear too with time.

Lastly, not only has my distortion perception diminished almost entirely but I am calmer as every day annoying sounds don’t sound as harsh. I had a form of hyperacusis, a car horn could drive me insane, neighbour noise would make me super stressed. Now the noise is the same but I guess because my brain is getting all frequencies properly the sensitivity is down. Noise doesn’t stress me out any longer.

So this is my story. Sometimes something so small can solve something so big, so never give up.

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