Because you’re so cool, you were in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That part’s less enjoyable.)
But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the situation, the rock concert might not be the cause. Something else must be happening. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you might feel a bit worried!
What’s more, your hearing might also be a little wonky. Usually, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.
Hearing loss in one ear causes problems, this is why
Your ears basically work in concert (no pun intended) with each other. Your two side facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- You can have difficulty identifying the direction of sounds: 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 very difficult for your brain to triangulate the source of sounds.
- It’s challenging to hear in noisy locations: With only one working ear, loud places like restaurants or event venues can quickly become overwhelming. That’s because all that sound appears to be coming from every-which-direction randomly.
- You can’t tell how loud anything is: You need both ears to triangulate direction, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it like this: You won’t be certain if a sound is far away or just quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- 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 spectrum from only one ear so it’s working extra hard to make up for it. And when hearing loss suddenly happens in one ear, that’s especially true. basic everyday tasks, as a result, will become more taxing.
So what causes hearing loss in one ear?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to typical “both ear hearing loss”, normally isn’t caused by noise related damage. So, other possible factors should be considered.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Abnormal Bone Growth: In very rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss might actually be some atypical bone growth getting in the way. This bone can, when it grows in a particular way, hinder your ability to hear.
- Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can cause 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: Yes your hearing can be blocked by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to wearing earplugs. If this is the case, don’t reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can just cause a bigger and more entrenched problem.
- Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will usually be extremely evident. It can be related to 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. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a great deal of pain are the outcomes.
- Ear infections: Swelling usually happens when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And this swelling can close up your ear canal, making it extremely hard for you to hear.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing responses to infection. It’s just what your body does! This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that causes swelling can result in the loss of hearing in one ear.
- Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear and may sound a little more intimidating than it usually is. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a serious (and possibly life-threatening) condition that you should talk to your provider about.
So how should I address hearing loss in one ear?
Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will differ depending on the underlying cause. In the case of certain obstructions (such as bone or tissue growths), surgery may be the ideal option. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will usually heal on their own. Other issues like too much earwax can be easily cleared away.
In some cases, however, your single-sided hearing loss might be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This distinctive type of hearing aid is manufactured specifically for those with single-sided hearing loss. With this hearing aid, sound is received at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s decoded by your brain. It’s very effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids use your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear completely.
It all starts with your hearing specialist
If you aren’t hearing out of both of your ears, there’s probably a reason. In other words, this isn’t a symptom you should be ignoring. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your overall health. So begin hearing out of both ears again by scheduling an appointment with us.