Let’s pretend you go to a rock show. You’re awesome, so you spend all night up front. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next morning, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That’s not so enjoyable.)
But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is most likely not to blame in that situation. Something else could be at work. And you might be a bit concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
Also, your overall hearing may not be working properly. Normally, your brain is processing information from both ears. So only getting signals from a single ear can be disorienting.
Hearing loss in one ear causes problems, this is why
In general, your ears work together. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, much like how your two forward facing eyes help with depth perception. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- Pinpointing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: You hear somebody trying to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t find where they are. When your hearing disappears in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
- It’s challenging to hear in loud places: With only one working ear, loud spaces like restaurants or event venues can quickly become overwhelming. That’s because your ears can’t make heads or tails of where any of that sound is originating from.
- You have difficulty discerning volume: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it like this: If you can’t figure out where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to know whether that sound is quiet or just away.
- You tire your brain out: Your brain will become more fatigued faster if you can only hear from one ear. That’s because it’s desperately trying to compensate for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss abruptly happens in one ear, that’s especially true. This can make a lot of activities 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, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, normally isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible causes need to be assessed.
Some of the most common causes include the following:
- Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can get so packed in there that it cuts off your hearing. It’s like wearing an earplug. If this is the situation, don’t reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can jam the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be really obvious. It can be caused by head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). When the thin membrane separating your ear canal and your middle ear has a hole in it, this kind of injury occurs. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a lot of pain are the outcomes.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name might sound kind of intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear. You still need to take this condition seriously, even though it isn’t cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
- Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is coping with the degenerative condition called Menier’s disease, they often experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not uncommon with Menier’s disease to lose hearing in one ear before the other. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Ear infections: Swelling typical happens when you have an ear infection. And this inflammation can block your ear canal, making it extremely hard for you to hear.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of irregular bone growth. And when it grows in a specific way, this bone can actually hinder your hearing.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing reactions to infection. It’s just what your body does! This response isn’t always localized, so any infection that produces swelling can result in the loss of hearing in one ear.
So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will differ depending on the root cause. In the case of particular obstructions (like bone or tissue growths), surgery may be the appropriate option. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will normally heal by themselves. And still others, such as an earwax based obstruction, can be cleared away by basic instruments.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some cases, may be permanent. We will help, in these cases, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass most of the ear by making use of your bones to convey sound to the brain.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This unique kind 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 detected by your brain. It’s very complicated, very cool, and very effective.
It all starts with your hearing specialist
If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s probably a reason. In other words, this isn’t a symptom you should be neglecting. Getting to the bottom of it is essential 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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