One-sided hearing loss is a hearing problem where a person can hear normally through one ear but have a hearing impairment in the other ear. One-sided hearing loss is also referred to as unilateral hearing loss (UHL) and single-sided deafness (SSD). This is usually a permanent hearing impairment.
People with this hearing impairment struggle with figuring out which direction sounds are coming from and socializing within large groups. In these situations, some people with one-sided hearing loss struggle with being included in conversations, while others with this impairment worry about coming off as rude. Those who suffer from this also struggle with being able to understand speech when there are noises in the background. Studies have shown that only 30-35% of the speech is actually heard when there are noises in the background.
Some of the different causes of one-sided hearing loss could be an injury to the ear, being around loud noises, using drugs, or having a certain illness that affects the ears. These illnesses include:
- Beriberi: A disease that comes from not having enough vitamin B1
- Labrynthitis: This disease is responsible for swelling and irritation of the ear
- Temporal arteritis: When blood vessels in the head and neck are inflamed and harmed
- Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency: Low blood flow to the back of the brain
NOTE: Medications such as, chemotherapy drugs, diuretics, streptomycin, and kanamycin can also cause one sided hearing loss.
To be diagnosed with one-sided hearing loss, a doctor will check your symptoms and medical history, then examine the ears, nose, and throat. The doctor may pursue with a hearing test that will measure your response to different times of sounds, tones, and at different volume levels. The doctor will then be able to see which part of the ear is affected, which can lead him/her to figuring out the causes.
Doctors may treat one-sided hearing loss by performing surgery on the ear or removing the tumor, prescribing antibiotics for infection, or using steroids to decrease the inflammation and irritation.