Let’s pretend you go to a rock show. You’re cool, so you spend the entire night in the front row. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next morning, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That part’s not so fun.)
But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? Well, if that’s the situation, the rock concert may not be the culprit. Something else must be going on. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you may feel a little concerned!
What’s more, your hearing might also be a little wonky. Your brain is accustomed to sorting out signals from two ears. So only receiving signals from a single ear can be disorienting.
Hearing loss in one ear creates issues, this is why
Your ears generally work together (no pun intended) with each other. Your two side facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So when one of your ears quits working correctly, havoc can result. Amongst the most prominent effects are the following:
- Identifying the direction of sound can become a great challenge: You hear someone attempting 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 source of sounds.
- It’s difficult to hear in loud locations: With only one functioning ear, loud spaces like restaurants or event venues can abruptly become overwhelming. That’s because your ears can’t figure out where any of that sound is coming from.
- You can’t be sure how loud anything is: 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 far away or merely quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- Your brain gets exhausted: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can get extra tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s desperately trying to compensate for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss abruptly occurs in one ear, that’s especially true. basic everyday tasks, 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 scientific names for when hearing is impaired on one side. While the more typical kind of hearing loss (in both ears) is normally the consequence of noise-related damage, single-sided hearing loss isn’t. This means that it’s time to look at other possible factors.
Here are a few of the most common causes:
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most common responses to infection. It’s just how your body responds. This response isn’t always localized, so any infection that produces inflammation can result in the loss of hearing in one ear.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will usually be very obvious. It can be due to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that separates your ear canal and middle ear. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a lot of pain are the outcomes.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s possible, in very rare instances, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of irregular bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a specific way, hinder your ability to hear.
- Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is coping with the degenerative condition known as 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. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- 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. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should consult your provider about.
- Ear infections: Infections of the ear can cause swelling. And it will extremely difficult to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be blocked by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If you’re experiencing earwax clogging your ear, never try to clean it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
So… What do I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Treatment options for single-sided hearing loss will differ based upon the underlying cause. Surgery may be the best solution for certain obstructions like tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will usually heal naturally. And still others, such as an earwax based obstruction, can be removed by basic instruments.
In some cases, however, your single-sided hearing loss could be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid solutions:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you compensate for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids make use of your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear completely.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This special type of hearing aid is designed exclusively for individuals who have single-sided hearing loss. 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 very effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
Your hearing specialist is the beginning
There’s probably a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. It isn’t something that should be disregarded. It’s important, both for your well-being and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So start hearing out of both ears again by scheduling an appointment with us.