Hearing Loss in One Ear – Possible Causes

Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Because you’re so cool, you rocked out in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It’s fun, although it’s not good for your ears which will be ringing when you get up in the morning. (That part’s not so enjoyable.)

But what if you wake up 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 going on. And you might be a bit alarmed when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.

In addition, your hearing might also be a little wonky. Your brain is used to sorting out signals from two ears. So only receiving information from a single ear can be disorienting.

Why hearing loss in one ear results in issues

In general, your ears work as a functional pair. 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 hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Among the most prevalent impacts are the following:

  • Distinguishing the direction of sound can become a great challenge: You hear someone trying to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t locate 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 extremely hard to hear: Noisy settings like event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear working. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is coming from.
  • You can’t be sure how loud anything is: Just like you need both ears to triangulate direction, you sort of need both ears to figure out how loud something is. Think about it this way: 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 tired: When you lose hearing in one ear, your brain can become overly 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 particularly true when hearing loss in one ear suddenly occurs. This can make a lot of tasks during your day-to-day life more exhausting.

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”, usually isn’t caused by noise related damage. This means that it’s time to evaluate other possible factors.

Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:

  • Abnormal Bone Growth: It’s possible, 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 certain way, impede your ability to hear.
  • Ear infections: Swelling typical results when you have an ear infection. And this inflammation can obstruct your ear canal, making it difficult for you to hear.
  • Ruptured eardrum: Usually, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (among 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. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a lot of pain result.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can cause vertigo and hearing loss. Often, the disease advances asymmetrically: one ear may be impacted before the other. Menier’s disease often comes with single sided hearing loss and ringing.
  • Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It’s like wearing an earplug. If this is the case, do not reach for a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can jam the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
  • Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing responses to an infection is to swell up. It’s just what your body does! This response isn’t always localized, so any infection that produces 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 might sound a bit more intimidating than it usually is. You still need to take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.

So how should I deal with hearing loss in one ear?

Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will differ based upon the root cause. In the case of particular obstructions (such as bone or tissue growths), surgery might be the ideal option. Some problems, like a ruptured eardrum, will usually heal on their own. Other issues such as excessive earwax can be easily removed.

In some circumstances, however, your single-sided hearing loss may be permanent. And in these situations, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid solutions:

  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass much of the ear by making use of your bones to convey sound to the brain.

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This type of uniquely manufactured hearing aid is specifically made to treat 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 complex, very cool, and very reliable.

Your hearing specialist is where it all starts

If you aren’t hearing out of both of your ears, there’s likely 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 general health. So schedule an appointment with us today, so you can begin hearing out of both ears again!



The content of this blog is the intellectual property of MedPB.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.