Man suffering from single-sided hearing loss is only experiencing one half of the world because he can't hear the other.

Single sided deafness, or unilateral hearing loss, is more regular than people realize, especially in kids.As a result, the public sees hearing loss as a binary — someone has average hearing in both ears or decreased hearing on each side, but that ignores one kind of hearing loss entirely.

A 1998 research thought that approximately 400,000 children had a unilateral hearing loss due to trauma or disease in the moment. It’s safe to say that amount has increased in that past two decades. The truth is single-sided hearing loss does occur and it brings with it complications.

What is Single-Sided hearing loss and What Makes It?

As its name suggests, single-sided hearing loss indicates a reduction in hearing just in one ear. The hearing loss can be conductive, sensorineural or mixed. In intense cases, profound deafness is potential. The dysfunctional ear is incapable of hearing at all and that individual is left with monaural audio quality — their hearing is limited to a side of the human body.

Reasons for premature hearing loss differ. It may be the result of injury, for example, someone standing beside a gun fire on the left might end up with moderate or profound hearing loss in that ear. A disorder can lead to the problem, too, such as:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Measles
  • Microtia
  • Meningitis
  • Waardenburg syndrome
  • Mumps
  • Mastoiditis

Whatever the origin, a person who has unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different method of processing audio.

Direction of the Sound

The brain uses the ears almost like a compass. It identifies the direction of sound based on which ear registers it initially and at the maximum volume. When a person speaks to you while standing on the left, the brain sends a signal to flip in that way.

Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the noise will only come in one ear regardless of what direction it originates. If you have hearing from the left ear, your head will turn left to search for the noise even when the person talking is on the right.

Pause for a second and consider what that would be like. The audio would always enter one side no matter where what direction it comes from. How would you understand where an individual speaking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t profound, sound management is tricky.

Focusing on Sound

The brain also employs the ears to filter out background sound. It informs one ear, the one closest to the noise you want to focus on, to listen for a voice. The other ear manages the background noises. This is why at a noisy restaurant, you may still concentrate on the dialogue at the dining table.

Without that tool, the mind gets confused. It’s unable to filter out background sounds like a fan blowing, so that is all you hear.

The Ability to Multitask

The mind has a lot happening at any one time but having use of two ears allows it to multitask. That’s the reason you’re able to sit and read your social media sites whilst watching Netflix or having a conversation. With only one functioning ear, the brain loses that ability to do one thing when listening. It has to prioritize between what you see and what you hear, so you usually miss out on the dialogue taking place without you while you browse your newsfeed.

The Head Shadow Effect

The head shadow effect describes how certain sounds are inaccessible to a person having a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have long frequencies so they bend enough to wrap round the mind and reach the working ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and do not survive the journey.

If you are standing beside a person with a high pitched voice, then you might not know what they say if you don’t flip so the working ear is facing them. On the other hand, you might hear someone having a deep voice just fine regardless of what side they are on because they produce longer sound waves that make it to either ear.

Individuals with only slight hearing loss in only one ear have a tendency to adapt. They learn quickly to turn their mind a certain way to listen to a friend talk, for instance. For people who battle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work around that yields their lateral hearing to them.

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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