Let’s imagine you go to a rock concert. You’re cool, so you spend the entire night up front. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That’s not as fun.)
But what if you wake up and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the case, the rock concert may not be the culprit. Something else must be going on. And you may be a little worried when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
Also, your overall hearing might not be working right. Normally, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.
Hearing loss in one ear creates issues, this is why
Generally speaking, your ears work together. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more precisely, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So when one of your ears quits working properly, havoc can result. Among the most prevalent impacts are the following:
- Pinpointing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: Somebody calls your name, but you have no clue where they are! It’s extremely difficult to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
- It’s difficult to hear in noisy locations: Loud places like event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear working. That’s because your ears can’t figure out where any of that sound is originating from.
- You have trouble detecting volume: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it like this: You won’t be certain if a sound is distant or simply quiet if you don’t know where the sound is coming from.
- Your brain becomes exhausted: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can get overly tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s failing to get the complete sound spectrum from just one ear so it’s working overly hard to compensate. And when hearing loss abruptly occurs in one ear, that’s particularly true. This can make a lot of tasks throughout your day-to-day life more taxing.
So what’s the cause of hearing loss in one ear?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, unlike common “both ear hearing loss”, normally isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible factors need to be assessed.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be very evident. It can be related to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (among other things). And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a great deal of pain result.
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is dealing with the chronic condition called Menier’s disease, they frequently experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not unusual with Menier’s disease to lose hearing in one ear before the other. Menier’s disease frequently is accompanied by single sided hearing loss and ringing.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in very rare instances, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of abnormal bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a certain way, interfere with your ability to hear.
- Ear infections: Swelling usually results when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And it will extremely difficult to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It’s like using an earplug. If this is the situation, do not grab a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear and might sound a little more intimidating than it normally is. 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.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing reactions to infection. 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.
So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will differ based upon the underlying cause. In the case of specific obstructions (like bone or tissue growths), surgery might be the appropriate option. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will normally heal on their own. And still others, such as an earwax based blockage, can be cleared away by basic instruments.
In some circumstances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. We will help, in these cases, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This distinctive type of hearing aid is manufactured exclusively for those who have single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids can detect sounds from your plugged ear and send them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass much of the ear by using your bones to convey sound to the brain.
Your hearing specialist is where it all starts
There’s probably a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be ignoring. It’s important, both for your well-being and for your hearing health, 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!