Let’s pretend you go to a rock concert. You’re awesome, so you spend the entire night up front. It’s fun, though it isn’t good for your ears which will be ringing when you wake up the next morning. (That’s not so fun.)
But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? The rock concert is most likely not to blame in that situation. Something else must be going on. And when you develop hearing loss in only one ear… you may feel a bit alarmed!
Also, your overall hearing might not be working properly. Your brain is accustomed to processing signals from two ears. So only receiving information from a single ear can be disorienting.
Hearing loss in one ear causes issues, here’s why
In general, your ears work as a functional pair. Your two side facing ears help you hear more precisely, much like how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So when one of your ears quits working correctly, havoc can happen. Amongst the most prevalent impacts are the following:
- You can have difficulty identifying the direction of sounds: Somebody yells your name, but you have no idea where they are! When your hearing disappears in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the source of sounds.
- It’s hard to hear in loud locations: Loud places such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear working. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is originating from.
- You can’t tell how loud anything is: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to determine volume. Think about it like this: If you can’t determine where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to detect whether that sound is quiet or just away.
- 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 trying desperately to make up for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss abruptly happens in one ear, that’s especially true. basic everyday activities, as a result, will become more exhausting.
So how does hearing loss in one ear occur?
“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”, typically isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to consider other possible factors.
Here are some of the most common causes:
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be blocked by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If this is the situation, do not grab a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just create a worse and more entrenched issue.
- Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is coping with the chronic condition called Menier’s disease, they frequently experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not uncommon with Menier’s disease to lose hearing in one ear before the other. Menier’s disease often comes with single sided hearing loss and ringing.
- Ear infections: Swelling usually happens when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And it will extremely difficult 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 what your body does! Swelling in response to an infection isn’t always localized so hearing loss in one ear can be caused by any infection that would trigger inflammation.
- Irregular Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in extremely rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of abnormal bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a specific way, impede your ability to hear.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be really obvious. It can be due 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. The result can be rather painful, and typically causes tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name may sound pretty intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear. You should still 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 causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will differ. Surgery may be the best solution for specific obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar problems will usually heal naturally. Other issues like excessive earwax can be easily cleared away.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some cases, might be permanent. And in these situations, 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 type of uniquely created hearing aid is primarily made to manage 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 decoded by your brain. It’s quite effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
It all begins with your hearing specialist
If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s most likely a reason. It isn’t something that should be ignored. Getting to the bottom of it is important for hearing and your overall health. So schedule a visit with us today, so you can begin hearing out of both ears again!