Let’s imagine you go to a rock show. You’re cool, so you spend the entire night up front. It’s enjoyable, although it isn’t good for your ears which will be ringing when you get up the next morning. (That’s not so fun.)
But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the case, the rock concert might not be the culprit. Something else may be at work. And you might be a little concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
Moreover, your general hearing might not be working right. Normally, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.
Why hearing loss in one ear leads to problems
Generally speaking, your ears work as a functional pair. Your two side facing ears help you hear more precisely, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help with depth perception. So when one of your ears quits working properly, havoc can happen. Among the most prominent impacts are the following:
- You can have difficulty identifying the direction of sounds: You hear somebody attempting to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t locate where they are. When your hearing disappears in one ear, it’s really very difficult for your brain to triangulate the source of sounds.
- When you’re in a noisy setting it becomes very difficult to hear: With only one functioning ear, noisy spaces like restaurants or event venues can suddenly become overwhelming. That’s because all that sound seems to be coming from every-which-direction randomly.
- You can’t be sure how loud anything is: You need both ears to triangulate direction, but you also need both to determine volume. Think about it this way: You won’t be sure if a sound is far away or simply quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- Your brain becomes tired: When you lose hearing in one ear, your brain can get overly tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s failing to get the complete sound range from only one ear so it’s working extra hard to compensate. And when hearing loss suddenly happens in one ear, that’s particularly true. basic everyday 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 technical names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to typical “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to evaluate other possible causes.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Ruptured eardrum: Usually, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. It can be caused by head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that separates your ear canal and middle ear. The result can be really painful, and normally triggers tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is coping with the degenerative condition called Menier’s disease, they frequently 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.
- Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear and might sound a bit more intimidating than it usually is. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should talk to your provider about.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can cause swelling. And it will extremely difficult to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s possible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of irregular bone growth. And when it grows in a certain way, this bone can actually impede your hearing.
- Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing 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.
- Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can become so packed in there that it cuts off your hearing. It has a similar effect to wearing earplugs. If this is the situation, don’t reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can just cause a worse and more entrenched problem.
So how should I deal with hearing loss in one ear?
Depending on what’s producing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will vary. Surgery could be the best choice for specific obstructions like tissue or bone growth. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will normally heal by themselves. Other issues like excessive earwax can be easily removed.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some cases, might be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two possible hearing aid options:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This distinctive type of hearing aid is manufactured specifically for those who have single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids can detect sounds from your impacted ear and transfer them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very complex, very cool, and very effective.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass much of the ear by using your bones to transfer sound to the brain.
It all begins 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 ignoring. It’s important, both for your wellness and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can start hearing out of both ears again!