Because you’re so hip, you rocked out in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That part’s less fun.)
But what if you wake up and can only hear out of one ear? Well, if that’s the case, the rock concert may not be the cause. Something else must be happening. And when you experience hearing loss in only one ear… you might feel a little worried!
Moreover, your overall hearing may not be working right. Usually, your brain is processing information from both ears. So only getting information from a single ear can be disorienting.
Why hearing loss in one ear leads to problems
Your ears generally work together (no pun intended) with each other. Just like having two forward facing eyes helps your depth perception and visual clarity, having two outward facing ears helps you hear more accurately. So when one of your ears stops working correctly, havoc can happen. Here are a few of the most prevalent:
- You can have trouble pinpointing the direction of sounds: Somebody yells your name, but you have no idea where they are! It’s exceptionally hard to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear functioning.
- It’s challenging to hear in loud locations: Noisy settings like event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with only one ear functioning. 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 location, but you also need both to determine volume. Think about it like this: You won’t be certain if a sound is distant or just quiet if you don’t know where the sound is coming from.
- Your brain gets exhausted: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can become extra tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s desperately trying to compensate for the loss of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss suddenly occurs in one ear, that’s especially true. This can make all kinds of activities throughout your daily life more taxing.
So what’s the cause of hearing loss in one ear?
“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are technical names for when hearing is muffled on one side. Single sided hearing loss, unlike typical “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to look at other possible factors.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing responses to infection. It’s just how your body responds. This response isn’t always localized, so any infection that triggers swelling can result in the loss of hearing in one ear.
- Ruptured eardrum: Usually, a ruptured eardrum is hard to miss. It can be due to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). And it occurs when a hole is created between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. The result can be quite painful, and typically causes tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
- Ear infections: Ear infections can trigger swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Earwax: Yup, occasionally your earwax can become so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It has a similar effect to wearing earplugs. If this is the situation, do not reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a degenerative 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. Menier’s disease frequently is accompanied by single sided hearing loss and ringing.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of irregular bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a particular way, impede your ability to hear.
- Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear and may sound a little more intimidating than it normally is. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it isn’t cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Treatment options for single-sided hearing loss will differ based upon the root cause. Surgery could be the best solution for certain obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. Some issues, like a ruptured eardrum, will normally heal by themselves. Other issues like excessive earwax can be easily removed.
In some circumstances, however, your single-sided hearing loss could be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid solutions:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass most of the ear by making use of your bones to convey sound to the brain.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of uniquely manufactured hearing aid is primarily made to treat single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids can detect sounds from your impacted ear and send them to your brain via your good ear. It’s quite effective not to mention complicated and very cool.
Your hearing specialist is the beginning
There’s probably a good reason why you’re only hearing out of one ear. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be neglecting. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your general health. So schedule a visit with us today, so you can start hearing out of both ears again!