Rare Condition Leaves Woman Unable To Hear Men, Including Her Boyfriend

What would you do if you were suddenly unable to hear your significant other when they talked?

Cue the "Enjoy the silence, hey-o!" jokes

No, seriously, what would you do? It would be unsettling, right? Well, as it turns out, a woman from China is facing this very conundrum.

Obviously, deafness is a thing.

Wikipedia | Flávia Costa

It's a pretty well-understood thing, too. Full or partial deafness is common enough that, between sign language, lip-reading and other cues, deaf people are able to function well even without the ability to hear.

But there are many types of hearing loss.

Unsplash | Alireza Attari

They generally apply to most noises. This means that, if you can hear well, you can hear most noises well. If you can't hear at all, you can't hear any noises. You get the picture.

This type of hearing loss is way different, though.

Wikimedia Commons | D Ramey Logan

The woman, Ms Chen, lives in Xiamen, China. She recently found that she could hear fine — but when her boyfriend spoke, she couldn't make out a word he was saying. Understandably concerned, she sought out a doctor.

It's crazy to imagine just waking up like this.

Imagine hearing your partner say goodnight, then wake up in the morning to see their lips moving but hearing no sounds at all. Ms Chen reported feeling nauseous and stressed before bed, but it's still very strange.

At the hospital, she found she could hear (some) voices.

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When female doctors and EMTs spoke to her, Ms Chen understood just fine. But when male staffers spoke, she could see their lips moving but heard nothing at all.

It turns out she basically can't hear men at all.

Unsplash | Jason Rosewell

It isn't a gender thing, but a frequency thing. The higher-frequency tones that women generally speak in were audible to her. But men, with their deeper voices, weren't detectable. It baffled doctors.

Doctors went to work on trying to figure out the problem.

Unsplash | Robin Gislain Shumbusho

While it isn't a common condition (far from it, in fact), it does have a name. Ms Chen was diagnosed by a specialist with reverse-slope hearing loss. It's incredibly rare.

How rare is it?

It's estimated that one in 13,000 people with hearing loss have the condition. About five percent of the world's population has hearing loss, that means a few tens of thousands of people (out of 7.7 billion worldwide) could have the condition.

It's so rare, even many doctors don't know about it.

While specialists are able to diagnose it, it often goes undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed because many medical professionals, and patients of course, simply don't realize that this type of hearing loss even exists.

It's thought to have something to do with genetics.

Unsplash | Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

It could also be a factor in why some people are able to hear certain low-frequency hums, like the kind made by appliances, while others never notice these things.

Fortunately, there's good news.

Because the condition was identified quickly, and is associated with stress, doctors in China say they expect Ms Chen to make a full recovery and be able to hear her boyfriend once again.

Back to our original question...

How would you react to temporarily not being able to hear your partner? Rejoice in the solitude? Freak out because you can no longer hear them whisper sweet nothings in your ear? Let us know in the comments!

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