The Special Problems of Single-Sided Deafness

Man suffering from single-sided hearing loss is only experiencing one half of the world because he can't hear the other.

Single-sided deafness, or unilateral hearing loss, is much more regular than people realize, especially in kids. Age-related hearing loss, which concerns most adults sooner or later, will become lateral, in other words, it affects both ears to some degree. As a result, the public sees hearing loss as being black and white — either someone has average hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on each side, but that ignores one particular form of hearing loss entirely.

A 1998 research estimated approximately 400,000 kids had a unilateral hearing loss due to trauma or disease in the moment. It’s safe to say that number has increased in that last two decades.

What is Single-Sided hearing loss and What Causes It?

As its name implies, single-sided hearing loss suggests a reduction in hearing just in one ear.In extreme instances, profound deafness is potential.

Reasons for premature hearing loss differ. It can be caused by trauma, for example, someone standing next to a gun fire on the left may end up with moderate or profound hearing loss in that ear. A disease may lead to this problem, as well, for example:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Measles
  • Microtia
  • Meningitis
  • Waardenburg syndrome
  • Mumps
  • Mastoiditis

Whatever the origin, an individual who has unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different method of processing sound.

Management of the Sound

The mind utilizes the ears almost like a compass. It identifies the direction of noise based on what ear registers it first and at the maximum volume.

Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the sound will only come in one ear regardless of what direction it originates. If you have hearing from the left ear, then your mind will turn to look for the noise even if the person talking is on the right.

Pause for a minute and consider what that would be like. The audio would enter one side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you understand where an individual speaking to you personally is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t deep, sound management is tricky.

Honing in on Sound

The mind also employs the ears to filter out background sound. It tells one ear, the one nearest to the sound that you want to concentrate on, to listen to a voice. Your other ear handles the background sounds. That is precisely why at a noisy restaurant, you can still concentrate on the conversation at the dining table.

Without that tool, the mind becomes confused. It is unable to filter out background noises like a fan running, so that is all you hear.

The Ability to Multitask

The mind has a lot going on at any given time but having two ears allows it to multitask. That’s why you’re able to sit and examine your social media sites whilst watching TV or having a conversation. With just one working ear, the brain loses that ability to do something while listening. It must prioritize between what you see and what you hear, so you tend to lose out on the dialogue around you while you browse your newsfeed.

The Head Shadow Impact

The mind shadow effect clarifies how certain sounds are inaccessible to an individual having a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have extended frequencies so that they bend enough to wrap around the head and reach the ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and don’t endure the trek.

If you are standing next to a person having a high pitched voice, then you might not know what they say if you don’t turn so the good ear is facing them. On the other hand, you might hear somebody with a deep voice just fine regardless of what side they’re on because they create longer sound waves which make it to either ear.

Individuals with just slight hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to adapt. They learn quickly to turn their head a certain way to listen to a buddy speak, for example. For those who battle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work around that returns their lateral hearing.

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.