When most people think of the term deafness, they think of hearing loss in both ears. But it doesn’t always happen this way. Sometimes hearing loss can occur in one ear only, which you might also know as unilateral hearing loss. Others may refer to it as single sided deafness (SSD). But regardless of what you want to call it, it’s actually more common than most people realize. But what are the causes of hearing loss in one ear? Let’s take a look:
Injury to the ear
There are many different things that can cause ear injuries. To better understand them, it’s helpful to understand the inner workings of the ear. The ear is actually quite complicated, but here is a simplified version:
We have three main parts of our ears. The outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear is the part of the ear that we can see. The middle ear is where you find the eardrum, along with three small bones known as ossicles. The inner ear contains your cochlea. This is a small chamber that contains fluid and lined with hair cells. So how do they all work together to help us hear?
First, sound waves travel through our outer ear. This creates a vibration that moves onto the middle ear. In return, this causes the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration is then amplified by the ossicles and carried to the inner ear. Here, the vibrations move through the fluid and into the hair cells. The hair cells amplify this sound even more. From here, sounds get translated into nerve impulses and travel to the brain. These signals are then interpreted by our brains as sound.
So how does this relate to the causes of hearing loss in one ear?
If any of the parts in your ear become damaged, you can experience hearing loss in that ear. Common injuries that result in hearing loss include:
Cuts, frostbite, burns, scrapes
While some of these things may not seem that serious, they can cause bleeding and infections. Infections can take small cuts and scrapes and turn them into bigger concerns. Even minor injuries can lead to hearing loss if they become infected.
If something is too deeply inserted into the ear, it can cause damage that can lead to hearing loss. The most common injuries of this category include q-tips and fingers. When inserted too deeply such thing can scratch the ear canal or cause tears in the eardrum. Both can lead to eventual hearing loss.
Blows to the head
There are many things that can cause blows to the head. Falls, sporting injuries, and car accidents are some of the most common. Wrestlers, boxers, and other athletes are also at extreme risk of forceful hits that can cause ear damage.
We have all heard it before, “you’re listening to your music way too loud – you’re going to lose your hearing”. Well, we’re sorry to tell you that this could be true. When exposed to loud noise over long periods of time, the hairs in the cochlea become damaged. When this happens, they lose their ability to amplify sounds and our hearing pays the price.
Sudden changes in air pressure
Anytime we change altitudes, the air pressure changes. This is most common when we fly or scuba dive. When pressure isn’t equalized, air pressure can push on the eardrum and cause us pain. This isn’t one of the most common causes of hearing loss in one ear. In most cases it just cases our ears to “pop”. But when changes occur too drastically and too suddenly, it can also result in hearing loss.
While this is one of the less common causes of hearing loss in one ear, tumours have been known to cause it. The most common type of tumor to cause hearing loss in one ear is known as an acoustic neuroma. It also goes by the name of vestibular schwannoma. This type of tumor is noncancerous and slow to grow. It develops on the vestibular nerve that leads from your inner ear to your brain. Branches of this nerve directly affect your ability to hear. And when pressure builds up from the tumour, you can lose your hearing altogether. Such tumours can also lead to balance concerns and ringing in the ears.
Illness or disease:
Illness and disease can target all areas of the body – including our ears. There are some illnesses and diseases that can lead to complete hearing loss or hearing loss in one ear. These can include (but are not limited to):
- Otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the ears).
- Meniere’s disease (interferes with the flow of fluid in the inner ear).
- Ushers syndrome (a genetic disease that can impact both hearing and vision).
- Mumps (a viral infection).
- German Measles (a common childhood illness cause by the rubella virus).
Of course, this is not an extensive list of causes of hearing loss in one ear. Hearing loss can also be caused by certain medications like those used in chemotherapy. In addition, hearing loss can be caused by more natural things like age and heredity. If you are experiencing any signs of hearing loss, it’s important that you contact a doctor immediately to discuss your symptoms. In many cases hearing loss is avoidable, but only if related symptoms are dealt with early on.
You should get in touch with King Sandia if you:
- Have any of the diseases or illnesses listed above.
- Hear muffled speech or sounds.
- Have a hard time understanding words.
- Cconstantly need to turn up the volume.
- Have a hard time hearing consonants.