Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Hearing Loss

FYI, I have had sleep apnea which I did not have treated for several years.  I struggled with using the CPAP machine, and continue to do so.  I'm not overweight, and walk and swim, and was in big time denial.  Unfortunately, I recently developed unilateral high frequency hearing loss (everything from upper midrange on up), and tinnitus on that side. The loss is irreversible; I'm hoping the tinnitus will diminish. My guess is the repeated lack of oxygen damaged the hearing apparatus.  Needless to say, it's upsetting, since my retirement plan (in 3-5 years) was to sit home and play guitar, buy a new turntable (maybe a Rega 6 or 8), speakers (maybe something like the Buchardts or update my Vandersteen 2s), integrated amp, transport and DAC; clean all the used lps I've bought in used record stores over the years (I live near Revilla Records and The Princeton Record Exchange in NJ); and listen to my collection of 5-6 thousand carefully curated CDs and LPs that I've aquired over a lifetime. (I kept all my original lps, plus many recent Blue Note, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, etc. reissues, and 40 years of collecting rock/jazz/americana/folk/blues/country/broadway/vocal/classical cds, including many early ones from Germany and many signed by the artist at small and medium sized concert venues).  So, best to get proper treatment if you have this disorder!


I’m sad to hear of your situation. I relate to it on many levels.

1) I grew up in central Jersey and spent a lot of my youth in Princeton and the Princeton Record Exchange. Driving between there and Vintage Vinyl In the 80s and 90s made a number of memorable weekends!

2) I dealt with sleep apnea for a year, but the mechanisms I was offered did little to help. I found them to be obtrusive, and ultimately therapy and better training to sleep on my side with a more fitting pillow helped me get over it completely.

3) I too have slight upper frequency hearing loss, but it was not caused by sleep Apnea. Before moving away from the tri-state area, my audiologists and otologists of choice was the NY League for the Hard of Hearing and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. I went to both for many years, and the service both provide, along with the caliber of the hearing aids, were leagues above other locations I found in NJ. I currently wear Phonak Audeo hearing aids that are ported so it allows natural frequencies in and supplements the highs I am not getting.

I would offer this as consolation. Despite any hearing loss, you can fully continue enjoying being an audiophile. Don’t let any challenges get in your way to finding happiness with music. With the right attitude, these challenges will only make you listen more intently than most people.

While you may feel initially like you’re not “getting everything”, you will realize that you will be able to “feel” when high frequencies are not properly present or too overbearing. Those frequencies not only affect what you hear in said frequencies, but they help to define other aspects of the music in terms of spatial cues, decay, air, and tonal balance in the room. You will learn to perceive music with both sides of your brain, your body, and your heart.

One of the reasons I invest myself so deeply as an audiophile is because it helps my listening skills and relationship building skills across the rest of my life. And now, I’m a high end audio dealer, and given my deficiencies, people are surprised at how well I can match components to drive system synergy and position and treat rooms for optimal performance. This in itself gives me confidence in what I’m doing and what I’m feeling enough to put myself out there like this vulnerably regardless of whether anyone may roast me for being a dealer with hearing challenges. There’s even a Facebook group for audiophiles with hearing loss that might interest you. I engage on there from time to time.

Your guidance is right - get the proper counseling and treatment. But also don’t ever let these challenges get in the way of you ever finding your true happiness, especially if it’s listening to music!

Juan Charvet

Bliss Hifi

Juan, thank you so much for your heartfelt reply (and wow, are you an excellent writer!).   I think I posted my story hoping someone would offer some consoling.  I'm hoping my hearing loss will be manageable; I'm hoping like yourself, I will figure out an acceptable way to keep enjoying my music.  Unfortunately, my apnea is so severe that I have to use CPAP, though I will see if I am a candidate for the new Inspire implantable device.  

BTW, Vintage Vinyl closed just as vinyl was taking off in the last few years.  They used to have in store performances, and I saw Sean Ono Lennon's band a few years back!

Thanks again for your support!  Ken


Juan..you made my day.

I was born with constant fairly loud bilateral tinnitus and selective narrow band loss.  The fact that you can be so right on with your listening observations brings to light a great point.  For me, I have never heard music or anything else like others do.  I rarely understand lyrics, but I still have the ability to compare what I hear And I even get the benefit of being able to enjoy Korean singers like IU.  Especially IU... hate her girlie genre..but love her voice and good looks.  I'm partially deaf, not deaf and old but not dead.

Anyway, Juan..appreciate your guidance and @kb54 I Also have sleep apnea and use a cpap...there are so many health benefits to getting this sorted out.  Mine is structural..but kindof use to the cpap.

@kb54 I hope you find a way to keep the experiences positive as well. Happy to chat if you ever need someone to talk to about it. Yes, Vintage Vinyl’s closing was really sad news. I think it was around 2015 or so when vinyl was definitely on the uptick. I feel that vinyl again has become less popular in the last two years, though it is still going strong. Digital has come a really long way these past two years.

@vonhelmholtz Thanks for sharing your story. I recall us discussing the Tinnitus in the past but wasn’t aware of your hearing loss.

To both of you, thanks for being receptive to my sharing what I did. Sometimes I’m a bit protective of sharing about my hearing loss due to me being a dealer and avid audiophile, and the conversation could have gone a really different way. You two are great examples of what make this community an incredible experience to be a part of. 

I'm so sorry to hear this. Maybe switching to headphones might help? I have nasty tinnitus too and expect this to happen to me too in the future.

Nothing to do with sleep apnea, but I've been wearing hearing aids for around 20 years or so now, and I've got loads of great audiophile gear, both 2-channel and headphones. I use in-ear hearing aids for the headphones. I may not hear it as well as a person with normal hearing, but I can sure tell the relative differences between gear anyway....

Just what I wanted to read-I’m going for my Sleep test tonight.  I’ve also been in denial for years.  I used to be in great shape but relied on exercise, about 2 hours a day high intensity, to keep my weight down, but I turned 50 and developed leukemia, gained weight from steroids, then had to have emergency heart surgery shortly after coming off them, then blew out my back, developed arthritis of the knees…on it goes.  I still try to exercise but I feel so far behind the eight ball weight wise that frankly I can’t get motivated to starve myself for months.  Maybe a positive Sleep Test will finally light a fire.  Happy to be alive, though

  Anyway, I’m a Physician, and hypoxia can definitely cause ischemia to the auditory nerve.  My sympathies with the OP

Thanks very much to everyone who replied to my post-it did make me feel a little better! To mahler123, I'm sorry to hear that you're having so many serious health conditions at 50. I'm 65, and have all the usual ailments, but didn't feel old until this hearing problem occurred. Have you tried NOOM or Weight Watchers for weight management?  It's my impression that they are the most successful at helping people maintain a healthy weight (as opposed to intense dieting, which almost always results in gaining all the weight back over time).

Sorry to hear about the Sleep Apnoea and hearing problems. I suspect the two are not connected, but who knows. I suffer from tinnitus as most of us getting older are prone to. Usually you can just ignore it, as if it is constant, the brain just tunes out non varying inputs, but I know some people can't do his and it can drive you crazy.

There are some treatments for tinnitus, but I never found much of benefit, things may have changed since I retired.

All I would emphasise is avoiding noise exposure, like a loud concert. It will worsen established tinnitus and make it more likely you will get it. If you experience temporary tinnitus after a gig, you have permanently degraded your hearing.

As for getting older, I've just had my first bout of gout. If I was a horse, they'd put me down. I'm sure my family are tempted by the thought.