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Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Let’s imagine you go to a rock show. You’re awesome, so you spend the entire night in the front row. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next day, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That’s not so enjoyable.)

But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that situation. Something else must be happening. And you might be a bit alarmed when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.

Also, your overall hearing may not be working right. Your brain is accustomed to processing signals from two ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.

Hearing loss in one ear causes issues, this is why

In general, your ears work together. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Amongst the most prominent impacts are the following:

  • You can have difficulty distinguishing the direction of sounds: You hear someone trying to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t locate where they are. When your hearing goes out in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
  • It’s difficult to hear in loud locations: With only one working ear, loud settings like restaurants or event venues can quickly become overwhelming. That’s because your ears can’t make heads or tails of where any of that sound is originating from.
  • You have trouble discerning volume: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it this way: If you can’t determine where a sound is coming from, it’s difficult to detect whether that sound is quiet or just away.
  • Your brain becomes tired: Your brain will become more exhausted faster if you can only hear out of one ear. That’s because it’s trying desperately to compensate for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss suddenly occurs in one ear, that’s especially true. Normal daily tasks, as a result, will become more exhausting.

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

Hearing experts call muffled hearing in one ear “unilateral hearing loss” or “single-sided hearing loss.” Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, usually isn’t caused by noise related damage. So, other possible causes need to be assessed.

Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:

  • Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s possible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of abnormal bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a certain way, hinder your ability to hear.
  • Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing responses to infection. It’s just what your body does! This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that produces swelling can lead to the loss of hearing in one ear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is coping with the chronic condition known as Menier’s disease, they frequently experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not unusual with Menier’s disease to lose hearing on one side before the other. Menier’s disease frequently comes with single sided hearing loss and ringing.
  • Ear infections: Infections of the ear can cause swelling. And this swelling can obstruct your ear canal, making it impossible for you to hear.
  • Ruptured eardrum: Usually, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. It can be caused by head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). And it occurs when there’s a hole between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. The result can be rather painful, and usually causes tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
  • Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can get so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If you have earwax blocking your ear, never try to clean it out with a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just cause a bigger and more entrenched issue.
  • 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. You still need to take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.

So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?

Depending on what’s generating 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 option. A ruptured eardrum or similar problems will normally heal on their own. Other problems such as excessive earwax can be easily removed.

In some cases, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. We will help, in these cases, by prescribing one of two possible hearing aid solutions:

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of uniquely created hearing aid is specifically made to treat single-sided hearing impairment. With this hearing aid, sound is received at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s decoded by your brain. It’s quite effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids use your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear completely.

Your hearing specialist is where it all starts

If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s probably a reason. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be neglecting. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your general health. So schedule a visit with us today, so you can begin hearing out of both ears again!

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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