Let’s pretend you go to a rock concert. You’re awesome, so you spend all night in the front row. 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 so fun.)
But what if you wake up and can only hear out of one ear? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that case. Something else must be happening. And you may be a bit concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
Moreover, your general hearing may not be working right. Your brain is used to sorting out signals from two ears. So only receiving information from a single ear can be disorienting.
Hearing loss in one ear creates issues, here’s why
Your ears basically work in concert (no pun intended) with each other. Just like having two forward facing eyes helps your depth perception and visual clarity, having two side facing ears helps you hear more effectively. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- You can have difficulty pinpointing the direction of sounds: You hear somebody trying to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t find where they are. It’s exceedingly hard to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
- It’s challenging to hear in loud locations: Loud places such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear functioning. That’s because your ears can’t make heads or tails of where any of that sound is originating from.
- 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 like this: You won’t be sure if a sound is distant or just quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- You tire your brain out: Your brain will become more fatigued faster if you can only hear from one ear. That’s because it’s trying desperately to compensate for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. This is particularly true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. This can make a lot of tasks throughout your day-to-day life more exhausting.
So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are technical terms for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, unlike typical “both ear hearing loss”, usually isn’t caused by noise related damage. So, other possible factors need to be assessed.
Here are a few of the most common causes:
- Ear infections: Infections of the ear can trigger swelling. And this swelling can close up your ear canal, making it extremely hard for you to hear.
- Irregular Bone Growth: In very rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss might actually be some irregular bone growth getting in the way. This bone can, when it grows in a certain way, interfere with your ability to hear.
- Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can result in vertigo and hearing loss. Often, the disease advances asymmetrically: one ear may be impacted before the other. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing reactions to an infection is to swell up. It’s just what your body does! Swelling in reaction to an infection isn’t necessarily localized so hearing loss in one ear can result from any infection that would trigger inflammation.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name may sound rather intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear. While it’s not cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should consult your provider about.
- Ruptured eardrum: Usually, a ruptured eardrum is hard to miss. It can be related to 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 gets a hole in it, this kind of injury occurs. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a great deal of pain result.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It’s like wearing an earplug. If you have earwax blocking your ear, never try to clear it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can jam the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
So… What do I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will vary based upon the root cause. Surgery might be the best option for certain obstructions like tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will normally heal naturally. And still others, including an earwax based blockage, can be removed by simple instruments.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some cases, might be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you compensate for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids use your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing most of the ear altogether.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of specially created hearing aid is specifically made to manage single-sided hearing loss. With this hearing aid, sound is picked up at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s decoded by your brain. It’s very complex, very cool, and very effective.
It all begins with your hearing specialist
There’s probably a good reason why you’re only hearing out of one ear. It isn’t something that should be ignored. It’s important, both for your well-being and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So schedule a visit with us today, so you can begin hearing out of both ears again!