Because you’re so hip, you rocked out in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It’s not exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That part’s not so fun.)
But what happens if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? The rock concert is probably not to blame in that case. Something else could be at work. And when you experience hearing loss in one ear only… you may feel a little concerned!
Moreover, your overall hearing may not be working properly. Normally, your brain is sorting out information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.
Why hearing loss in one ear leads to issues
Generally speaking, your ears work together. Your two side facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So when one of your ears quits working properly, havoc can result. Amongst the most prevalent impacts are the following:
- Identifying the direction of sound can become a real challenge: Somebody calls your name, but you have no clue where they are! When your hearing disappears in one ear, it’s really very difficult for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
- It’s hard to hear in loud locations: With only one working ear, loud spaces like restaurants or event venues can quickly become overwhelming. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is originating from.
- You have trouble discerning volume: 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 this way: If you can’t figure out where a sound is coming from, it’s difficult to detect whether that sound is simply quiet or just distant.
- Your brain becomes tired: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can become extra tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s failing to get the complete sound spectrum from just one ear so it’s working extra hard to make up for it. And when hearing loss abruptly occurs in one ear, that’s especially true. Normal everyday tasks, as a result, will become more exhausting.
So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?
Hearing professionals call muffled hearing in one ear “unilateral hearing loss” or “single-sided hearing loss.” Single sided hearing loss, in contrast to typical “both ear hearing loss”, usually isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible causes should be considered.
Here are a few of the most prevalent causes:
- Ear infections: Ear infections can cause swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
- Irregular Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in extremely rare instances, that hearing loss on one side can be the result of abnormal bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a certain way, impede your ability to hear.
- Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing responses to infection. 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 cause inflammation.
- Meniere’s Disease: When someone is coping with the degenerative condition known as Menier’s disease, they frequently experience vertigo and hearing loss. It’s not unusual with Menier’s disease to lose hearing in one ear before the other. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
- Ruptured eardrum: Typical, a ruptured eardrum is hard to miss. It can be related 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 separates your ear canal and middle ear. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a lot of pain result.
- Acoustic Neuroma: While the name may sound rather intimidating, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it isn’t cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
- Earwax: Yup, occasionally your earwax can become so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It’s like wearing an earplug. If you have earwax blocking your ear, never try to clear it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can jam the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
So… What can I do about my single-sided hearing loss?
Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatments will differ. In the case of specific obstructions (such as bone or tissue growths), surgery may be the appropriate solution. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will usually heal by themselves. Other issues such as excessive earwax can be easily cleared away.
In some cases, however, your single-sided hearing loss could be permanent. And in these cases, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid solutions:
- CROS Hearing Aid: This distinctive kind of hearing aid is manufactured specifically for people with 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 very complicated, very cool, and very reliable.
- Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass most of the ear by utilizing your bones to transfer sound to the brain.
Your hearing specialist is where it all starts
There’s most likely a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. In other words, this isn’t a symptom you should be neglecting. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your overall health. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can start hearing out of both ears again!