Let’s imagine you go to a rock concert. You’re cool, so you spend the entire night in the front row. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next morning, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That’s not so enjoyable.)
But what happens if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that case. Something else may be at work. And you might be a bit concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
In addition, your hearing may also be a little out of whack. Usually, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.
Hearing loss in one ear causes problems, this is why
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 clarity, having two outward facing ears helps you hear more accurately. So when one of your ears quits working properly, havoc can happen. Amongst the most prevalent effects are the following:
- You can have difficulty identifying the direction of sounds: Somebody calls your name, but you have no idea where they are! When your hearing goes out in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
- It’s challenging to hear in loud locations: With only one working ear, noisy 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 trouble detecting volume: You need both ears to triangulate direction, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it this way: If you can’t figure out where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to detect whether that sound is simply quiet or just distant.
- 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 failing to get the complete sound range from just one ear so it’s working overly hard to compensate. This is especially true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. basic daily tasks, as a result, will become more taxing.
So how does hearing loss in one ear occur?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific terms for when hearing is impaired on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible causes should be considered.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Earwax: Yup, occasionally your earwax can become so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It’s like using an earplug. If this is the situation, don’t grab a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just create a worse and more entrenched issue.
- Other infections: One of your body’s most common responses 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 result from any infection that would trigger inflammation.
- Irregular Bone Growth: It’s possible, in extremely rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of irregular bone growth. And when it grows in a certain way, this bone can actually hinder your hearing.
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is coping with the chronic condition called Menier’s disease, they frequently experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not unusual with Menier’s disease to lose hearing in one ear before the other. Hearing loss in one ear with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Ear infections: Infections of the ear can cause swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name may sound kind of frightening, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear. You still need to take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be really evident. It can be due to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (among other things). When the thin membrane separating your ear canal and your middle ear has a hole in it, this type of injury occurs. The result can be rather painful, and normally triggers tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
So how should I address hearing loss in one ear?
Depending on what’s producing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will vary. Surgery might be the best solution for certain obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will usually heal naturally. Other problems like too much earwax can be easily removed.
In some circumstances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. We will help, in these cases, by prescribing one of two possible hearing aid solutions:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of specially made hearing aid is primarily made to treat single-sided hearing loss. With this hearing aid, sound is picked up at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s detected by your brain. It’s quite effective not to mention complex and very cool.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you compensate for being able to hear from only one ear, these hearing aids utilize your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear altogether.
Your hearing specialist is where it all starts
If you aren’t hearing out of both of your ears, there’s most likely a reason. It isn’t something that should be ignored. It’s important, both for your wellness and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So begin hearing out of both ears again by making an appointment with us.