Hearing loss in one ear happens when hearing reception works appropriately in one ear while the other has some degree of hearing impairment. It can happen congenitally or develop gradually due to various factors like an injury, infection, noise exposure, or medical conditions.
Approximately 7% of adults in the U.S. have some kind of hearing impairment in a single ear. This condition affects all genders and ages equally and tremendously affects communicative skills, space orientation, and general quality of life.
There are multiple types of unilateral hearing loss. These include:
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is identified by misconduct in sound through the outer and middle ear.
- Sensorineural hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is identified by damage to the inner ear.
- Mixed hearing loss: When there is both damage in the inner ear and sound misconduct through the outer and middle ear, it is called mixed hearing loss.
At Advanced Audiology Care in Old Bridge, New Jersey, we understand how hearing loss can affect a person’s life and self-esteem. We are passionate about helping people recover communicative and social skills with multiple hearing loss treatment options.
Causes of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Hearing loss occurs when the nerve cells or hairs inside your ears become damaged, causing them to send incomplete electrical signals to the brain. This can happen in one or both ears.
Multiple factors could cause hearing impairment in a single ear, including one-sided injury, ear blockage, exposure to noise, or an illness:
- Constant exposure to loud noises: Noisy environments like concerts, construction sites, and airports, or habits like wearing headphones for too long could cause hearing loss.
- Genetic factors: A family history of hearing loss could increase the chances of developing it.
- Medical conditions: People with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart conditions are at higher risk of developing hearing loss.
- Trauma: Injuries on one side of the head could cause the hearing nerve cells to become damaged.
- Ear infections: Some infections could cause the eardrum to rupture, causing hearing damage in one ear.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Hearing loss in a single ear might not be noticeable right away. Here are some signs that could help you identify if you need treatment:
- Experiencing difficulty comprehending others' conversation in loud environments and misinterpreting their words
- Requesting others to repeat what they've said
- Tinnitus, or ringing in one ear
- Listening better on one ear over the phone or during conversations
- Using a higher volume than others while listening to music or watching TV
- Having trouble hearing during phone conversations
- Feeling exhausted or anxious from focusing on listening
If you suspect you need a hearing aid, we suggest visiting your doctor for a precise hearing loss evaluation. Besides analyzing the extent of hearing impairment in a patient, the hearing test will also include a general health history evaluation.
Diagnosis of Hearing Loss in One Ear
To diagnose hearing impairment in one ear, your audiology specialist might perform a hearing evaluation and ask about your medical or family health history. Knowing about your lifestyle and family can help determine the extent of your hearing loss and choose the appropriate hearing device for you.
Your audiology specialist may perform multiple painless and quick tests, including the following:
Treatment Options for Hearing Loss in One Ear
Treatment options for hearing loss in one ear may range from lifestyle changes, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) to CROS or BiCros hearing aids. Choosing the right type depends on your case and your hearing specialist's advice.
Hearing aids amplify the sound vibrations that enter the ear, allowing the hair cells to pick up the amplified vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that can be transmitted to the brain.
The amount of amplification required for a hearing aid increases with the severity of your hearing loss. There are three basic types of hearing aids:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): This type of hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and sits behind the ear.
- In-the-ear (ITE): This type of hearing aid has two styles, one that fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear (full shell) and one that fills only the lower part (half shell).
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC): Similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid, a receiver-in-canal has a speaker or receiver near the ear canal. However, this type of hearing aid uses a small wire instead of tubing.
Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA)
Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) are hearing systems that attach to a headband or an implant that is surgically placed into the ear canal. It is made up of a sound processor that picks up sound from one ear and sends it to the other through bone conduction.
Although this treatment does not restore hearing or help with ringing in the ear (tinnitus), it can be an alternative for people who are not candidates for cochlear implants.
CROS or BiCROS hearing aids
A CROS or BiCROS hearing aid consists of a hearing aid device worn on the functioning ear and a microphone placed on the damaged ear. It helps send out sounds from one ear to another.
For people whose unilateral hearing loss case is more severe, cochlear implants may be the ideal treatment. These are surgically implanted into the inside of the ear and stimulate the nerves that have become damaged.
Cochlear implants can significantly improve sound processing but involve a surgical procedure that may not be suitable for all patients.
Besides the treatment options that can help pick up sounds, some lifestyle changes could help improve daily tasks for people with hearing loss. These include:
- Learning new communication skills like lip-reading
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by doing exercise, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking
- Using assistive technology available on daily use gadgets such as phones and FM systems
- Wearing ear protection on the functioning ear
Prevention of Hearing Loss in One Ear
It’s important to note that although these treatments can effectively improve one’s hearing ability, inner ear damage is often not reversible. We suggest preventing hearing damage as much as possible. This can be achieved by:
- Wearing ear protection in loud environments like concerts, airports, sports events, or work construction sites.
- Avoiding loud noise exposure, such as trying not to wear headphones with high volume for extended periods.
- Keep your ears clean from earwax buildup.
- Getting regular hearing screenings can help you understand the health of your ear and diagnose any hearing health concerns early on.
Hearing Aids in Old Bridge, New Jersey
Advanced Audiology Care provides hearing tests using state-of-the-art equipment paired with noise-canceling headphones to obtain accurate results. Our comprehensive hearing evaluations include tympanometry, pure tone, bone conduction testing, and speech recognition testing to assess auditory function accurately.
Reach out to us to request an in-office comprehensive hearing evaluation and consultation.
If you need a hearing aid, contact Advanced Audiology Care at (848) 257-5521 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fan for a hearing evaluation. You may also request an appointment online.