Most of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss experience reduced hearing in both of their ears at one time. But a small percentage experiences hearing loss in only one ear. This is known as unilateral hearing loss.
Unilateral vs. Bilateral Hearing Loss
Bilateral hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and occurs when there is a decrease in hearing ability in both ears at once. Unilateral hearing loss is a loss in only one ear. Just like traditional bilateral hearing loss, unilateral loss can range from mild to profound.
If unilateral hearing loss is severe or profound, it is known as single-sided deafness.
Causes of Single Sided Deafness
Unilateral hearing loss may be the result of:
- Trauma or injury to the head
- Acoustic neuroma
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Meniere’s disease
Signs of Single Sided Deafness
Because the hearing loss is confined to a single side, it is common to have trouble determining where sounds come from, a process known as localizing sounds. Those with this type of hearing loss also have problems understanding speech in noisy environments.
Untreated single-sided deafness can also increase your likelihood of experiencing tinnitus.
How Single-Sided Deadness Is Treated
There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for this type of hearing loss.
Hearing aids and bone-anchored devices are the most common treatment options. A cochlear implant may be utilized, but it requires the cochlea of the damaged ear to be intact. These treatment options require there to be some hearing left in the affected ear.
If there is no hearing left, a specific device known as a CROS hearing aid is recommended. This hearing aid sends sound information from the affected ear to the ear with normal hearing. Newer devices can send the sound information via wireless transmission. Older models require a wire to connect the devices in both ears.
For those with some level of hearing loss in their normal ear, a BiCROS hearing aid may be used.
To learn more about single-sided deafness or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Gulf Coast Audiology today.