Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Because you’re so hip, you were in the front row for the entire rock concert last night. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That’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 cause. Something else might be at work. And you might be a little concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.

Also, your general hearing might not be working right. Your brain is used to sorting out 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

Generally speaking, your ears work together. Your two side facing ears help you hear more precisely, similar to how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Amongst the most prominent effects are the following:

  • You can have difficulty pinpointing the direction of sounds: Somebody yells your name, but you have no clue where they are! It’s extremely difficult to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear functioning.
  • It’s challenging to hear in loud places: Noisy places like event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear functioning. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is originating from.
  • You can’t be sure how loud anything is: Just like you need both ears to triangulate location, you sort of need both ears to figure out how loud something is. Think about it like this: You won’t be certain if a sound is distant or just quiet if you don’t know where the sound is coming from.
  • Your brain becomes exhausted: Your brain will become more exhausted faster if you can only hear from one ear. That’s because it’s failing to get the whole sound range from only one ear so it’s working overly hard to compensate. This is especially true when hearing loss in one ear suddenly occurs. This can make all kinds of tasks during your day-to-day life more exhausting.

So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?

“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are technical terms for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, unlike common “both ear hearing loss”, normally isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible causes need to be considered.

Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:

  • Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear and may sound a bit more intimidating than it usually is. While it’s not cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should consult your provider about.
  • Irregular Bone Growth: It’s possible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of irregular bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a particular way, interfere with your ability to hear.
  • Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will usually be very evident. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (among 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. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a great deal of pain are the outcomes.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a degenerative hearing condition that can lead to vertigo and hearing loss. Often, the disease progresses asymmetrically: one ear might be impacted before the other. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
  • Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing reactions to an infection is to swell up. It’s just how your body responds. This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that triggers inflammation can lead to the loss of hearing in one ear.
  • Ear infections: Infections of the ear can trigger swelling. And this inflammation can obstruct your ear canal, making it extremely hard for you to hear.
  • Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If this is the situation, do not reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.

So how should I address hearing loss in one ear?

Depending on what’s producing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will differ. In the case of certain obstructions (like bone or tissue growths), surgery might be the ideal option. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will normally heal naturally. And still others, including an earwax based blockage, can be cleared away by simple instruments.

In some cases, however, your single-sided hearing loss might be permanent. And in these situations, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid solutions:

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This type of uniquely created hearing aid is primarily made to treat single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids can detect sounds from your impacted ear and send them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from only one ear, these hearing aids use your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing most of the ear completely.

It all starts with your hearing specialist

If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s likely a reason. It isn’t something that should be disregarded. Getting to the bottom of it is important for hearing and your general health. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can start 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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