A woman in southeastern China had a waking nightmare when she realized she can no longer hear men’s voices.
The woman, identified as Chen, went to bed with nausea and ringing in her ears, believing that a good night’s sleep should alleviate the pain.
But to her horror, Chen, who slept next to her boyfriend, was unable to hear him speak the next morning.
She then rushed to a nearby hospital in her home city of Xiamen, Fujian province.
At Qianpu Hospital, Chen discovered that she can only hear women’s voices, QQ reported.
Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist Dr. Lin Xiaoqing, a female, told reporters, “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.”
Dr. Lin diagnosed Chen with reverse-slope hearing loss (RSHL), a rare condition in which patients can only hear high-frequency sounds.
Also known as low-frequency hearing loss, it reportedly affects only one in 12,000 people, with about 3,000 sufferers in the U.S. and Canada, according to audiology clinic, Audiology, Inc.
Genetics predominantly cause RSHL, but certain conditions such as Ménière’s disease, viral infections and sudden hearing loss can also lead to it.
Still, changes in pressure of the endolymph — the fluid in the inner ear — as well as stress, injury and blood vessel problems can contribute to the development of RSHL.
Patients with RSHL are unable to hear low-frequency sounds such as roaring thunder, refrigerator humming and even a car approaching, which can be dangerous.
Fortunately, the condition may be reversed when detected promptly, sometimes even without medication.
Audiologist Dr. Michelle Kraskin told Live Science, “Most studies have shown that if you catch it within 48 hours, you have the best chance for recovery.”
Dr. Lin, who blames stress and the lack of sleep for Chen’s hearing loss, expects her patient to make a full recovery.