Because you’re so hip, you were in the front row for the entire rock concert last night. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next day, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That part’s less fun.)
But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that situation. Something else could be at work. And you might be a bit worried when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.
What’s more, your hearing might also be a little out of whack. Your brain is used to processing signals from two ears. So only receiving signals from a single ear can be disorienting.
Hearing loss in one ear creates problems, this is why
Generally speaking, your ears work as a functional pair. Your two side facing ears help you hear more accurately, much like how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Among the most prevalent effects are the following:
- You can have difficulty identifying the direction of sounds: Someone yells your name, but you have no clue where they are! It’s extremely hard to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
- When you’re in a noisy setting it becomes extremely difficult to hear: With only one functioning ear, loud settings like restaurants or event venues can abruptly become overwhelming. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is coming from.
- 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 this way: You won’t be certain if a sound is distant or merely quiet if you don’t know where the sound was originating from.
- Your brain becomes tired: Your brain will become more exhausted faster if you can only hear out of one ear. That’s because it’s failing to get the complete sound spectrum from just one ear so it’s working overly hard to compensate. And when hearing loss abruptly occurs in one ear, that’s particularly true. 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 names for when hearing is impaired on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to look at other possible causes.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can result in 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 along with ringing is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in very rare cases, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of abnormal bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a specific way, impede your ability to hear.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing reactions to infection. It’s just what your body does! Swelling in response to an infection isn’t necessarily localized so hearing loss in one ear can be caused by any infection that would trigger inflammation.
- Ear infections: Swelling usually results when you have an ear infection. And this swelling can obstruct your ear canal, making it difficult for you to hear.
- Ruptured eardrum: Typical, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (amongst other things) can be the cause of a ruptured eardrum. When the thin membrane dividing your ear canal and your middle ear gets a hole in it, this type of injury occurs. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a lot of pain are the outcomes.
- Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It’s like using an earplug. If you’re experiencing earwax clogging your ear, never try to clear it out with a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just create a bigger and more entrenched problem.
- Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear and might sound a bit more intimidating than it normally is. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
So… What do I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Depending on what’s triggering your single-sided hearing loss, treatments will differ. Surgery could be the best option for certain obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. Some issues, like a ruptured eardrum, will usually heal by themselves. And still others, such as an earwax based blockage, can be cleared away by simple instruments.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some circumstances, might be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two possible hearing aid options:
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from only one ear, these hearing aids use your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear completely.
- CROS Hearing Aid: This type of uniquely created hearing aid is primarily made to manage single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids are able to 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 where it all starts
If you aren’t hearing out of both of your ears, there’s most likely a reason. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be neglecting. 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 begin hearing out of both ears again!