Because you’re so cool, you rocked out in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It’s fun, although it’s not good for your ears which will be ringing when you wake up the next morning. (That part’s less fun.)
But what if you wake up and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the situation, the rock concert might not be the cause. Something else could be at work. And when you develop hearing loss in only one ear… you may feel a little alarmed!
Also, your overall hearing might not be working right. Normally, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.
Why hearing loss in one ear causes problems
Your ears basically work together (no pun intended) with each other. Just like having two front facing eyes helps you with depth perception and visual acuity, having two side facing ears helps you hear more effectively. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are some of the most prevalent:
- Pinpointing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: You hear someone attempting to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t locate where they are. It’s exceptionally difficult to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear functioning.
- It’s difficult to hear in noisy locations: Noisy settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear working. That’s because your ears can’t figure out where any of that sound is coming from.
- You can’t tell 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 sure if a sound is distant or simply quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- Your brain gets tired: When you lose hearing in one ear, your brain can become extra tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s failing to get the complete sound range from just one ear so it’s working overly hard to compensate. This is particularly true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. basic everyday activities, as a result, will become more taxing.
So what’s the cause of hearing loss in one ear?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific terms for when hearing is impaired on one side. While the more common kind of hearing loss (in both ears) is usually the result of noise-related damage, single-sided hearing loss isn’t. So, other possible factors need to be assessed.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is coping with the degenerative condition called Menier’s disease, they often experience vertigo and hearing loss. Often, the disease advances asymmetrically: one ear may be affected before the other. Hearing loss in one ear with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name may sound pretty intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms 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.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will usually be really obvious. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (amongst other things) can be the cause of a ruptured eardrum. And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that separates your ear canal and middle ear. The outcome can be really painful, and usually leads to tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by excessive earwax packed in your ear canal. It’s like using an earplug. If this is the situation, don’t grab a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Other infections: One of your body’s most common reactions to an infection is to swell up. It’s just what your body does! Swelling in reaction to an infection isn’t always localized so hearing loss in one ear can be caused by any infection that would cause inflammation.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can trigger swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Irregular Bone Growth: It’s possible, in extremely rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of irregular bone growth. And when it grows in a particular way, this bone can actually hinder your hearing.
So how should I handle hearing loss in one ear?
Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will differ. Surgery might be the best choice for certain obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will usually heal by themselves. Other problems like too much earwax can be easily cleared away.
In some instances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. And in these situations, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid options:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of specially created hearing aid is primarily made to manage single-sided hearing impairment. These hearing aids can identify sounds from your impacted ear and transfer them to your brain via your good ear. It’s quite effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass most of the ear by making use of your bones to transfer sound to the brain.
Your hearing specialist is the beginning
If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s most likely a reason. In other words, this isn’t a symptom you should be ignoring. It’s important, both for your wellness and for your hearing health, to get to the bottom of those causes. So start hearing out of both ears again by making an appointment with us.