Let’s imagine you go to a rock show. You’re awesome, so you spend the entire night up front. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next morning, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That part’s not so enjoyable.)
But what if you wake up and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the situation, the rock concert might not be the cause. Something else must be going on. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you might feel a little alarmed!
What’s more, your hearing may also be a little wonky. Your brain is used to sorting out signals from two ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.
Hearing loss in one ear creates problems, this is why
Your ears generally work together (no pun intended) with each other. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- You can have trouble pinpointing the direction of sounds: Someone yells your name, but you have no clue where they are! It’s exceedingly hard to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
- It’s challenging to hear in noisy places: Noisy settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear working. That’s because your ears can’t figure out where any of that sound is originating from.
- You can’t be sure how loud anything is: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to determine volume. Think about it this way: You won’t be certain if a sound is far away or just quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- You wear your brain out: When you lose hearing in one ear, your brain can get extra 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. This is particularly true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. basic daily tasks, as a result, will become more exhausting.
So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t the result of noise related damage. This means that it’s time to look at other possible causes.
Some of the most common causes include the following:
- Irregular Bone Growth: In really rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss could actually be some irregular bone growth getting in the way. And when it grows in a specific way, this bone can actually interfere with your hearing.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can trigger swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most common responses to infection. 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.
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone 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 along with ringing is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to wearing earplugs. 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: While the name may sound pretty frightening, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear. You still need to take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be really evident. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (amongst other things) can be the cause of a ruptured eardrum. When the thin membrane separating your ear canal and your middle ear gets a hole in it, this type of injury happens. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a lot of pain are the outcomes.
So… What do I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will differ. Surgery could be the best option for certain obstructions like tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will usually heal naturally. Other issues like excessive earwax can be easily removed.
In some instances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. And in these cases, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid options:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass much of the ear by using your bones to convey sound to the brain.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of uniquely created hearing aid is primarily made to treat single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids are able to identify sounds from your plugged ear and send them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very complicated, very cool, and very effective.
Your hearing specialist is the beginning
There’s most likely 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 your hearing health, to get to the bottom of those causes. So begin hearing out of both ears again by scheduling an appointment with us.