Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Because you’re so cool, you rocked out in the front row for the entire rock concert last night. It’s enjoyable, although it’s not good for your ears which will be ringing when you wake up in the morning. (That’s not as fun.)

But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that situation. Something else may be at work. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you may feel a little worried!

What’s more, your hearing might also be a little wonky. Your brain is used to sorting out signals from two ears. So only getting signals from a single ear can be disorienting.

Hearing loss in one ear creates issues, this is why

Your ears basically work in concert (no pun intended) with each other. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, much like how your two forward facing eyes help with depth perception. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Among the most prominent impacts are the following:

  • You can have trouble distinguishing the direction of sounds: Somebody calls your name, but you have no idea where they are! It’s extremely hard to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
  • It’s challenging to hear in loud locations: Loud settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear functioning. That’s because all that sound seems to be coming from every-which-direction randomly.
  • You can’t be sure how loud anything is: In the same way as you need both ears to triangulate location, you sort of need both ears to determine how loud something is. Think about it this way: If you can’t determine where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to know whether that sound is simply quiet or just distant.
  • You tire your brain out: When you lose hearing in one ear, your brain can become overly tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s desperately trying to compensate for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss suddenly occurs in one ear, that’s particularly true. Normal everyday tasks, as a result, will become more taxing.

So what’s the cause of hearing loss in one ear?

“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific terms for when hearing is impaired on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to typical “both ear hearing loss”, usually isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to consider other possible factors.

Some of the most common causes include the following:

  • Acoustic Neuroma: While the name might sound kind of intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should speak with your provider about.
  • Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing responses to an infection is to swell up. It’s just how your body responds. Swelling in response to an infection isn’t always localized so hearing loss in one ear can result from any infection that would cause inflammation.
  • Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will usually be extremely obvious. It can be caused by head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). When the thin membrane separating your ear canal and your middle ear has a hole in it, this kind of injury happens. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a great deal of pain are the outcomes.
  • Ear infections: Swelling typical happens when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And this inflammation can block your ear canal, making it impossible for you to hear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is coping with the chronic condition called Menier’s disease, they often experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not unusual with Menier’s disease to lose hearing on one side before the other. Hearing loss in one ear with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
  • Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in extremely rare instances, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of irregular bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a certain way, hinder your ability to hear.
  • Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can get so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It’s like wearing an earplug. If this is the case, don’t grab a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just create a worse and more entrenched problem.

So how should I handle hearing loss in one ear?

Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will differ. In the case of particular obstructions (like bone or tissue growths), surgery may be the ideal solution. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will usually heal naturally. And still others, including an earwax based blockage, can be cleared away by simple instruments.

In some instances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of uniquely created hearing aid is primarily made to address single-sided hearing impairment. With this hearing aid, sound is picked up at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s detected by your brain. It’s very complex, very cool, and very effective.
  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from only one ear, these hearing aids use your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear altogether.

Your hearing specialist is the beginning

There’s probably a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. It isn’t something that should be dismissed. It’s important, both for your well-being and for your hearing health, to get to the bottom of those causes. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can begin hearing out of both ears again!

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