Let’s pretend you go to a rock concert. You’re cool, so you spend all night up front. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next morning, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That’s not so enjoyable.)
But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? The rock concert is most likely not to blame in that case. Something else must be going on. And you may be a bit worried when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
What’s more, your hearing might also be a little wonky. Your brain is accustomed to processing signals from two ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.
Why hearing loss in one ear leads to issues
In general, your ears work as a functional pair. Just like having two forward facing eyes helps your depth perception and visual sharpness, having two outward facing ears helps you hear more effectively. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are some of the most prominent:
- Pinpointing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: Someone yells your name, but you have no clue where they are! When your hearing goes out in one ear, it’s really very difficult for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
- It’s difficult to hear in noisy places: Noisy settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear functioning. That’s because all that sound seems to be coming from every-which-direction randomly.
- You have trouble detecting volume: Just like you need both ears to triangulate direction, you kind 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 is coming from.
- Your brain becomes exhausted: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can get overly tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s trying desperately to make up 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 taxing.
So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are technical names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, unlike common “both ear hearing loss”, normally isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to consider other possible factors.
Here are some of the most prevalent causes:
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is coping with the chronic condition known as Menier’s disease, they often experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not uncommon with Menier’s disease to lose hearing on one side before the other. Hearing loss in one ear with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can get so packed in there that it cuts off your hearing. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If you have earwax blocking your ear, never try to clear it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Ruptured eardrum: Typical, a ruptured eardrum is hard to miss. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (amongst other things) can be the cause of a ruptured eardrum. And it occurs when there’s a hole between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a great deal of pain result.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name might sound rather frightening, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it isn’t cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
- Ear infections: Swelling typical results when you have an ear infection. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Irregular Bone Growth: It’s feasible, 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 particular way, hinder your ability to hear.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most common reactions to infection. It’s just how your body responds. This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that causes swelling can result in the loss of hearing in one ear.
So how should I deal with hearing loss in one ear?
Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatments will vary. In the case of specific obstructions (such as bone or tissue growths), surgery might be the appropriate solution. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will usually heal by themselves. And still others, like an earwax based blockage, can be removed by basic instruments.
In some instances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. And in these cases, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid options:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids make use of your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing most of the ear completely.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of specially created hearing aid is specifically made to manage single-sided hearing impairment. These hearing aids can identify sounds from your plugged ear and transfer them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very complex, very cool, and very effective.
Your hearing specialist is the beginning
If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s most likely a reason. It isn’t something that should be ignored. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your overall health. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can start hearing out of both ears again!