Unilateral Hearing: What Causes It, The Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

November 12, 2012

Unilateral Hearing: What Causes It, The Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

Unilateral hearing, which means one ear hears better than the other, doesn’t get the attention it deserves because of other hearing problems and treatment options available.

Unilateral hearing loss doesn’t typically get the attention it deserves. And, how can it if you’re constantly hearing about cochlear implants or hearing aids for hearing loss. Now, you might be wondering what is unilateral hearing loss. It’s the kind of hearing impairment where one ear has normal hearing and the other is the impaired ear. It’s also known as single side deafness (or SSD).

Unilateral Hearing Loss Symptoms and Signs

A person who has unilateral hearing loss will have real problems doing three things:

  1. Localizing sound

  2. Listening to a conversation on their impaired ear side

  3. Understanding speech when background noise is present

When conditions are quiet, speech discrimination is about the same for normal hearing and for folks who have unilateral deafness. But, when the environment is noisy, speech discrimination will vary from one person to the next and can range from extremely mild to very severe. In fact, a person with this kind of hearing will hear way less than 50 percent of the conversation (roughly 35 percent).

What Are The Causes For Unilateral Hearing

Unilateral hearing is caused by several things including but not limited to:

  • Physical injury

  • Acoustic neuroma

  • Mumps

  • Measles

  • Meningitis

  • Mastoid infection

  • Labyrinthitis

  • Genetics

Unilateral Hearing Causes Number Of “Side Effects”

It’s not hard to tell when a person is suffering with this type of hearing. If you notice them favoring one ear over another, it’s likely that they have unilateral hearing. It can also cause the following things:

  • Headaches

  • Stress

  • Irritability

  • Jumpiness

  • Anxiousness appearance

  • Social isolation

  • Difficulty in determining sound location

  • Evasive behavior

  • ADHD misdiagnosis

  • Problems with sound depth

Treatment For Unilateral Hearing Loss

  1. Bone Anchored Hearing Implants – This hearing aid treatment option that will convey sound to the side with the hearing loss through bone transmission and will stimulate the cochlea of the good ear to hear better.

  2. Contralateral Routing Of Signal – This is a hearing aid that’ll detect sound on the hearing loss side and send it over to the ear that can hear…so that it hears better! The majority of these systems on the market today are made of two behind the ear hearing aids, which send sound soundlessly.


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