Because you’re so hip, you were in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That’s not as enjoyable.)
But what happens if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is most likely not to blame in that case. Something else must be happening. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you might feel a bit alarmed!
What’s more, your hearing may also be a little wonky. Usually, your brain is sorting out information from both ears. So only receiving signals from a single ear can be disorienting.
Why hearing loss in one ear results in issues
Generally speaking, your ears work together. Just like having two forward facing eyes helps you with depth perception and visual sharpness, having two outward facing ears helps you hear more accurately. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Here are some of the most prominent:
- You can have difficulty pinpointing the direction of sounds: You hear someone 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.
- When you’re in a loud setting it becomes very difficult to hear: With only one working ear, noisy 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: In the same way as you need both ears to triangulate location, you sort of need both ears to figure out how loud something is. Think about it like this: You won’t be sure if a sound is far away or simply 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 trying desperately to make up for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. This is especially true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. Normal everyday activities, as a result, will become 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 impaired on one side. Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to common “both ear hearing loss”, typically isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible factors need to be assessed.
Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:
- Irregular Bone Growth: In really rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss could actually be some atypical bone growth getting in the way. And when it grows in a particular way, this bone can actually hinder your hearing.
- Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can become so packed in there that it cuts off your hearing. It’s like wearing an earplug. If you have earwax plugging your ear, never try to clean it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can push the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
- Other infections: One of your body’s most common reactions to an infection is to swell up. It’s just how your body responds. Swelling in response to an infection isn’t always localized so hearing loss in one ear can be caused by any infection that would cause inflammation.
- Ear infections: Swelling usually results when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And it will extremely difficult to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Ruptured eardrum: Typical, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. It can be due to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (among other things). And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a great deal of pain result.
- 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 normally is. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and possibly life-threatening) condition that you should talk to your provider about.
- Meniere’s Disease: When somebody is dealing with the chronic condition called Menier’s disease, they often 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 along with ringing is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Depending on what’s generating your single-sided hearing loss, treatments will vary. In the case of particular obstructions (like bone or tissue growths), surgery might be the ideal option. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will normally heal on their own. And still others, such as an earwax based blockage, can be cleared away by simple instruments.
Your single-sided hearing loss, in some circumstances, may be permanent. We will help, in these cases, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid options:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This type of uniquely made hearing aid is primarily made to address single-sided hearing impairment. With this hearing aid, sound is received at your bad ear and sent to your good ear where it’s detected 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 only one ear, these hearing aids make use of your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing most of the ear completely.
It all starts with your hearing specialist
There’s most likely a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. It’s not something that should be ignored. It’s important, both for your wellness and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So schedule a visit with us today, so you can start hearing out of both ears again!