What is ‘cookie-bite’ hearing loss?

What is ‘cookie-bite’ hearing loss?

If you have mid-range hearing loss, your audiogram will be shaped like a bell, or the letter U. This is also known as cookie-bite hearing loss. According to Dr. Jordan Glicksman, an otolaryngologist and skull base surgeon, the term “cookie-bite” comes from the pattern of the hearing thresholds on the audiogram resembling a ‘U’ shape as if someone took a bite out of it.

Audiogram showing cookie-bite hearing loss pattern

Cookie-bite hearing loss is a type of sensorineural hearing loss, which means it is caused by an impairment in the cochlea or auditory nerve rather than a conductive problem like fluid in the middle ear or earwax build-up. Dr. Glicksman notes that this type of hearing loss is less common compared to age-related hearing loss.

Symptoms of cookie-bite hearing loss

As with many forms of hearing loss, it may be the people around you—your friends and family—who first suspect you’re having difficulty hearing.

People with cookie-bite hearing loss may find themselves raising the volume on the TV or radio in order to hear properly. They may also experience reduced clarity and have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. Dr. Glicksman explains that communication difficulties may arise, especially when the hearing loss is severe. It is common for friends and family to notice the signs of hearing loss before the individual does.

Causes of cookie-bite hearing loss

Cookie-bite hearing loss is primarily a genetic condition. Dr. Glicksman states that having a family history of this type of hearing loss increases the risk. It can either be congenital, meaning it is present at birth, or develop over time due to genetic factors. In rare cases, a benign tumor called vestibular schwannoma or acoustic neuroma can lead to mid-frequency hearing loss.

How mid-range hearing loss is diagnosed

The diagnosis of cookie-bite hearing loss involves a simple audiogram test. The distinctive U-shaped pattern on the audiogram is a key indicator of this type of hearing loss. However, one challenge in diagnosing cookie-bite hearing loss is that it is often mild and may go unnoticed for some time. Dr. Glicksman explains that individuals may not realize their hearing has worsened, and the gradual nature of the mid-range frequency loss may make it less noticeable compared to sudden hearing loss.

Treatment options

While there is no cure for cookie-bite hearing loss, there are treatment options available to help manage the condition and improve communication abilities. Dr. Glicksman suggests the following:

  • Making adaptations: Simple changes in social settings, such as sitting closer to the person speaking or ensuring clear visibility of their lips, can be helpful. Moving closer to amplification devices like microphones can also improve hearing.
  • Hearing aids: Wearing hearing aids can assist in amplifying mid-frequency sounds, which are affected in cookie-bite hearing loss.

The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the hearing loss and the individual’s willingness to rehabilitate their hearing. If anyone suspects they have cookie-bite hearing loss, it is recommended to visit a hearing aid center for further evaluation and guidance.