Possible Causes of Hearing Loss in One Ear

Woman cupping ear and grimacing because of single sided hearing loss

Because you’re so cool, you rocked out in the front row for the entire rock concert last night. It’s enjoyable, although it isn’t good for your ears which will be ringing when you wake up in the morning. (That part’s less fun.)

But what if you can only hear out of one ear when you wake up? Well, if that’s the case, the rock concert might not be the cause. Something else may be at work. And when you develop hearing loss in one ear only… you may feel a little concerned!

In addition, your hearing might also be a little out of whack. Your brain is used to processing signals from two ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from one ear only.

Hearing loss in one ear causes issues, here’s why

In general, your ears work together. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two forward facing eyes help your depth perception. So hearing loss in one ear can wreak havoc. Amongst the most prominent impacts are the following:

  • Pinpointing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: Somebody calls your name, but you have no clue where they are! It’s exceedingly difficult to triangulate the direction of sound with only one ear working.
  • It’s challenging to hear in loud places: Loud settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear functioning. That’s because your ears can’t determine where any of that sound is originating from.
  • You can’t be sure how loud anything is: You need both ears to triangulate location, but you also need both to figure out volume. Think about it like this: If you can’t determine where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to know whether that sound is simply quiet or just distant.
  • You wear your brain out: Your brain will become more exhausted faster if you can only hear out of one ear. That’s because it’s trying desperately to compensate for the loss of hearing from one of your ears. This is particularly true when hearing loss in one ear happens suddenly. basic daily activities, as a result, will become more exhausting.

So what’s the cause of hearing loss in one ear?

“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are scientific names for when hearing is impaired on one side. While the more ordinary kind of hearing loss (in both ears) is normally caused by noise-related damage, single-sided hearing loss is not. So, other possible causes should be assessed.

Some of the most prevalent causes include the following:

  • Ear infections: Ear infections can trigger swelling. And it will impossible to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
  • Earwax: Yes your hearing can be blocked by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to using earplugs. If you’re experiencing earwax plugging your ear, never try to clean it out with a cotton swab. Cotton swabs can jam the earwax even further up against the eardrum.
  • Acoustic Neuroma: While the name might sound kind of frightening, an acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that forms on the nerves of the inner ear. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.
  • Ruptured eardrum: Typical, a ruptured eardrum is difficult to miss. It can be related to head trauma, loud noises, or foreign objects in the ear (among other things). And it happens when a hole is created between the thin membrane that divides your ear canal and middle ear. Usually, tinnitus and hearing loss along with a lot of pain are the outcomes.
  • Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most prevailing reactions to infection. It’s just how your body responds. This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that produces inflammation can lead to the loss of hearing in one ear.
  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a degenerative hearing condition that can cause vertigo and hearing loss. Often, the disease progresses asymmetrically: one ear may be affected before the other. Menier’s disease frequently comes with single sided hearing loss and ringing.
  • Abnormal Bone Growth: In very rare cases, the cause of your hearing loss may actually be some irregular bone growth getting in the way. And when it grows in a certain way, this bone can actually hinder your hearing.

So… What do I do about my single-sided hearing loss?

Depending on what’s triggering your single-sided hearing loss, treatments will differ. Surgery might be the best solution for certain obstructions such as tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar problems will usually heal on their own. Other problems such as excessive earwax can be easily cleared away.

In some instances, however, your single-sided hearing loss might be permanent. And in these situations, we will help by prescribing one of two hearing aid solutions:

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This special kind of hearing aid is manufactured specifically for those with single-sided hearing loss. These hearing aids can identify sounds from your impacted ear and transfer them to your brain via your good ear. It’s very complex, very cool, and very effective.
  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you compensate for being able to hear from one ear only, these hearing aids utilize your bones to move the sound waves to your brain, bypassing most of the ear completely.

Your hearing specialist is the beginning

There’s most likely a good reason why you’re only hearing out of one ear. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be ignoring. It’s important, both for your well-being and for the health of your hearing, to get to the bottom of those causes. So begin hearing out of both ears again by making an appointment with us.



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.