Hearing Loss in One Ear – Possible Causes

Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Because you’re so hip, you were in the front row for the whole rock concert last night. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s fun, and the next morning, you wake up with two ringing ears. (That’s not so enjoyable.)

But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? Well, if that’s the situation, the rock concert may not be the culprit. Something else may be at work. And when you experience hearing loss in one ear only… you might feel a bit worried!

Also, your overall hearing might not be working right. Usually, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.

Hearing loss in one ear creates issues, this is why

Your ears generally work together (no pun intended) with each other. Your two side facing ears help you hear more precisely, similar to how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So when one of your ears stops working correctly, havoc can happen. Here are some of the most prevalent:

  • Distinguishing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: Someone yells your name, but you have no idea where they are! When your hearing goes out in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the source of sounds.
  • When you’re in a noisy setting it becomes very difficult to hear: Noisy settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear functioning. 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 direction, you kind of need both ears to determine how loud something is. Think about it this way: If you can’t determine where a sound is coming from, it’s difficult to detect whether that sound is quiet or just away.
  • Your brain becomes tired: When you lose hearing in one of your ears, your brain can get extra tired, extra fast. That’s because it’s trying desperately to make up for the lack of hearing from one of your ears. And when hearing loss abruptly occurs in one ear, that’s especially true. basic everyday activities, as a result, will become more exhausting.

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, unlike typical “both ear hearing loss”, usually isn’t the result of noise related damage. So, other possible factors should be considered.

Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:

  • Other infections: One of your body’s most prevailing responses to an infection is to swell up. It’s just how your body responds. Swelling in reaction to an infection isn’t always localized so hearing loss in one ear can be caused by any infection that would trigger inflammation.
  • Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be really obvious. It can be due to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (amongst other things). When the thin membrane separating your ear canal and your middle ear has a hole in it, this kind of injury occurs. Normally, tinnitus and hearing loss as well as a lot of pain result.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can lead to vertigo and hearing loss. In many cases, the disease progresses asymmetrically: one ear may be affected before the other. Hearing loss in one ear with ringing is another common symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
  • Earwax: Yup, sometimes your earwax can get so packed in there that it blocks your hearing. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If you’re experiencing 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.
  • Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear and might sound a little more intimidating than it normally is. While it isn’t cancerous, necessarily, an acoustic neuroma is still a significant (and potentially life-threatening) condition that you should speak with your provider about.
  • Abnormal Bone Growth: In extremely rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss might actually be some irregular bone growth getting in the way. And when it grows in a particular way, this bone can actually impede your hearing.
  • Ear infections: Ear infections can trigger swelling. And this swelling can obstruct your ear canal, making it difficult for you to hear.

So how should I address hearing loss in one ear?

Depending on what’s causing your single-sided hearing loss, treatment options will vary. Surgery may be the best choice for specific obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar problems will usually heal on their own. Other problems like excessive earwax can be easily cleared away.

Your single-sided hearing loss, in some circumstances, might be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two potential hearing aid solutions:

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This kind of uniquely manufactured hearing aid is specifically made to manage single-sided hearing impairment. With this hearing aid, sound is picked up 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.
  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: These hearing aids bypass most of the ear by using your bones to transfer sound to the brain.

It all starts with your hearing specialist

If you can’t hear out of both of your ears, there’s likely a reason. In other words, this isn’t 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!



The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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