Do you often ask your friends and family to speak into your “good” ear? If yes, then you are not alone. Unilateral hearing loss, or single-sided hearing loss, affects around 60,000 Americans. Single-sided hearing loss is a condition where one ear experiences hearing loss. It can occur at birth or later in life. If you have this condition, you may experience muffled hearing in one ear, and certain sounds may not be as clear as in your other ear. This condition can develop gradually or suddenly.
If you are experiencing hearing loss in one ear, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.
Single-Sided Hearing Loss Types
Two distinct categories exist, namely sensorineural and conductive. It is essential to differentiate between these two types of hearing loss as they require different treatment approaches.
Sensorineural hearing loss:
When the nerve pathways that send messages from the ear to the brain become damaged, sensorineural hearing loss occurs and can be permanent.
Conductive hearing loss:
When sound transmission through the ear becomes obstructed, conductive hearing loss could happen. It is characterized by symptoms such as muffled hearing, ear fullness, dizziness, and tenderness.
When hearing loss occurs only in one ear with no residual hearing, is known as single-sided deafness (SSD).
What are the Causes?
Hearing loss in one ear can have many different causes. Once we understand the reason for your symptoms, we can treat them properly. Some of the common reasons include:
• Exposure to loud noise
• Buildup of earwax
• Swimmer’s ear
• Foreign objects
• Ear infections
• Eardrum problems
• Injuries and other adverse health conditions
What are the Symptoms?
Single-sided hearing loss can be disorienting in a crowd, as it is easier for the brain to filter out unnecessary sounds with two ears. Distinguishing where a sound is coming from or how loud it is can be difficult since the brain processes sound using signals from both ears. The symptoms of single-sided hearing loss can be frustrating and interfere with day-to-day life, making certain activities more challenging. However, there are many ways to manage this type of hearing loss.
Treatment Options Available
With appropriate care, single-sided hearing loss can be effectively treated. If your single-sided hearing loss is permanent, it will usually develop gradually, and you may not even notice it at first. Fortunately, many treatments available today can help you manage your symptoms effectively. Treatment options for single-sided hearing loss include:
• Hearing aid devices
• Auditory implants
• Speech therapy
• Microphone remotes
When to See an Audiologist
If you are encountering signs of hearing loss in one ear, it is essential to seek the help of an audiologist as soon as possible, especially if the symptoms appear suddenly. An audiologist will conduct a thorough hearing examination to pinpoint the underlying reason for your hearing loss. Once diagnosed, they can recommend the best treatment plan tailored to your needs.
As ENTs, we prioritize your hearing care above all else. Our team of trusted audiologists will help you determine the reason for your hearing loss and recommend the best treatment for your unique case. If you are experiencing hearing loss in one ear, contact us today.