Most cases of hearing loss occur in both ears. But, in some cases, people lose their hearing in one ear. This is known as unilateral hearing loss. Sometimes, people experience sudden hearing loss in one ear, and this requires prompt medical treatment. Unilateral hearing loss can also occur slowly and worsen over time.
Whether the hearing loss is immediate or gradual, it’s essential that you get immediate treatment. Emergency treatment for sudden unilateral hearing loss may restore hearing, but this isn’t certain. One thing is certain, however; no matter the circumstance, treatment is sure to minimize the negative effects of single-sided deafness substantially.
What’s more, exciting developments in science, technology, and medicine have led to treatment options that can be highly effective and personalized to you. In this blog, we’ll explore the latest and most effective treatments for unilateral hearing loss, as well as the role an expert audiologist plays in your treatment process to ensure it comes with positive results.
Causes & Types
Unilateral hearing loss can be caused by multiple factors. Sometimes it occurs as a result of a disease or infection – for example, mumps. Since hearing loss can come as a result of ill health, it’s essential that you seek medical treatment immediately. This way, you can prevent the underlying condition from getting worse while stopping any further hearing damage from occurring.
Hearing loss can also be caused by head injuries or physical damage to the ear. Again, since your hearing loss is indicative of another serious health concern, it’s critical that you see a medical professional or hearing specialist as soon as possible. This will save your hearing and prevent other injury-related health risks from developing, too.
If there is no underlying disease, illness, or trauma that’s resulting in loss of hearing in one ear, you’ll still need to see an audiologist. They’ll perform an examination, ensuring that there is no obvious obstruction to the ear, like ear wax or fluid. Next, they’ll perform a series of tests to identify the extent of your hearing loss in one ear and recommend an effective treatment from there.
If your hearing loss is permanent, you have a variety of options to choose from to partially or fully restore your hearing. Your audiologist will make recommendations based on your hearing loss severity and particular circumstances.
If your hearing loss is mild or moderate, a specialist may recommend you use a hearing aid to help amplify affected sounds. More specifically, they may suggest you use a CROS hearing aid, which stands for “contralateral routing of signals.” These devices have been made for those experiencing severe hearing loss in one ear specifically.
This nifty piece of tech picks up the sounds occurring on the deaf ear and passes them through the functional ear. It’s a non-invasive and less expensive procedure than cochlear implants. But it’s not as subtle or as comfortable.
We’ll reiterate that those affected by permanent hearing loss are not limited by treatment choices. If you experienced sudden loss of hearing in one ear, cochlear implants can offer a discreet and effective hearing solution.
Cochlear implants are technical devices that are surgically inserted into the ear and work with electrical impulses to pick up sounds and turn them into nerve signals to travel to your brain, just as they would with your working ear. They can be effective – restoring or improving your ability to hear, communicate, and of course, connect.
Another surgical intervention includes a bone-anchored hearing system. People may choose to use a bone-anchored hearing system if they don’t benefit from wearing CROS or traditional hearing aids. This tiny device is implanted in a bone located behind the ear, picking up sound vibrations and sending them to the inner ear and hearing nerves. It can be a great solution for those who crave the simplicity of working with one device only.
No matter the option you choose, it’s always best to partner with a trusted audiologist. A hearing specialist will not only test and recommend treatment options. They can source the correct device for you, mold it, and fit it to you, too. It’s also recommended that you work with your audiologist after receiving your device or implant so that they can help make the adjustment period a little more stress-free.
Experiencing hearing loss in one ear requires certain lifestyle changes. On one hand, you’ll need to get comfortable with your new hearing device. On the other hand, you’ll want to prevent any further hearing damage by protecting your functional ear.
If you’re going to be exposed to noise levels, we recommend wearing some form of ear protection, such as ear specialized ear plugs or ear muffs. You’ll also want to see your audiologist regularly for checkups and screenings so that they can assess whether your hearing levels are decreasing and why. A trained audiologist can also make any other device adjustments or recommend new treatment options if required.
At NYC Hearing Associates, we offer a full range of elite hearing health services. If you require a hearing evaluation, a discreet device, or a more in-depth hearing health solution, schedule an appointment with one of our registered audiologists to explore our available services. Note that we also offer telehealth consultations for your convenience.