Understanding Cookie Bite Hearing Loss: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

cookie bite audiogram

An average of 15% of all American adults experience some trouble hearing. People can experience many types of hearing issues, but there’s one in particular that not everyone is aware of because it’s less common: cookie-bite hearing loss. 

This is a unique kind of sensorineural hearing loss that targets a very specific frequency range. Although fewer people deal with this than other forms of hearing loss, it can still be a frustrating and debilitating problem for those who do. Learn more about cookie bite hearing loss in this guide. 

What Is Cookie Bite Hearing Loss?

Cookie bite hearing loss is also called mid-range hearing loss. It leads you to struggle with hearing mid-range frequency sounds without low- and high-range frequency sounds being affected. The majority of human speech falls within the mid-range frequency, so people with this problem have trouble hearing speech. 

Unlike other sensorineural hearing issues, such as low-range frequency hearing loss, someone with cookie bite hearing loss can hear sounds like thunder. You also hear high-range frequency sounds, like chirping birds, which someone with high-range-frequency hearing loss wouldn’t be able to do. 

But why is it called cookie bite hearing loss? The name comes from the shape that your audiogram makes, which is a U — or like someone took a bit out of a cookie.  

Causes and Risk Factors

Cookie bite hearing loss causes are almost always genetic. It can be congenital, which means you’re born with the problem, or it can appear gradually over time. 

Cookie bite hearing loss occurs when there’s damage to the sensory and nerve cells of the auditory nerve and inner ear. In only the rarest of cases, it’s caused by a benign tumor called vestibular schwannoma or acoustic neuroma

If you have family members with cookie bite hearing loss, you have a higher chance of developing the condition yourself. You also could have a higher risk of sensorineural hearing loss if you’ve been exposed to loud noises or take certain medications, like some antibiotics.

Symptoms and Signs

The most common symptoms and signs of cookie bite hearing loss include struggling to understand what someone is saying. At first, you might still be able to understand most words, but this can progressively get worse. You may notice that you’ve begun to look at people’s lips as they speak. 

You can also have difficulty hearing music and some environmental sounds. It’s common to notice that you have to raise the volume of the television or other devices because you can’t hear certain speech noises. Needing subtitles is also a sign. It’s very common to have trouble hearing speech in busy environments as well. 

For the majority of people who experience cookie bite hearing loss, the hearing loss is so gradual. As a result, they may not realize it’s happening for years. 

Diagnosis and Assessment

To get an accurate diagnosis, you need to get an audiological evaluation. Pure-tone audiometry is the standard method of detecting the type, configuration, and degree of hearing loss. It involves putting headphones on and raising your hand or pressing a button when you hear a sound.

The diagnosis can also involve speech audiometry, which measures how loud speech has to be for you to hear it and how well you can understand and distinguish words at different levels. You’ll sit in a booth or with headphones on and hear common words at various volume levels. The person administering the test will ask you to repeat the words. 

Another test that could help with the diagnosis is tympanometry, which can show your audiologist how well your middle ear works. The test does this by measuring the way your eardrum moves using a probe that pushes air into your ear.

Treatment Options

Although there’s no cure, there are cookie bite hearing loss treatment options that can make a difference. Hearing aids are a good choice. These have to be carefully fitted and programmed by an audiologist because of the unique nature of cookie bite hearing loss. High and low-range frequencies don’t need amplification, but mid-range ones do. 

Bone-anchored assistive hearing devices can also be helpful. These are similar to hearing aids, but they’re not inserted into the ear canal or placed behind the ear. Instead, they go on a soft band that you wear around your head. Alternatively, they can be attached to a metal implant in your skull. 

Cochlear implants are also a helpful option for people with cookie bite hearing loss. It’s a small device with an external portion that sits behind the ear and another portion that goes under your skin and is attached to an electrode array that goes in the inner ear. They’re particularly helpful for making speech clearer. 

Coping Strategies and Support

Learning to adjust and live with cookie bite hearing loss is important. Many times, this means making small changes to the way you do certain things. For example, changing where you sit in a crowded room or moving closer to people with whom you’re speaking can make a difference in how much you’re able to understand. 

Having support is also essential. In addition to relying on your loved ones, you can join one of the many online forums and support groups available for people who struggle with different hearing loss types. 

Feeling isolated can affect your mental health. That’s why turning to these groups, which can offer both support and actionable advice, is extremely valuable. 

Getting Help for Cookie Bite Hearing Loss

Cookie bite hearing loss is a rare condition that affects mid-range frequency sounds. Because that’s the range at which most music and speech occurs, it can make communicating and even listening to a favorite song more difficult. 

Although there’s no treatment for cookie bite hearing loss, turning to an audiologist for the fitting of a hearing aid or even a cochlear implant can be the best choice. With the right people helping you, you can improve how you hear. 

At Happy Ears, we offer care that you can depend on. If you’re experiencing any kind of hearing loss, make an appointment at any of our three hearing centers to get the guidance you need. Contact us today.