Single-sided hearing loss (SSHL) is more common than we actually know. This is because many thousands of people who experience it often do not seek help or tell anyone.
However, if left untreated, it can cause your “good ear” to be overworked, which causes a host of problems.
We hope to raise awareness and educate everyone here in New England on the dangers of SSHL and what can be done about it. Early detection is our best chance to reduce the damage and provide relief.
In some cases, SSHL can be reversed, but only if we can tend to the problem early on.
Single-Side Hearing Loss Defined
This occurs when someone experiences hearing loss of any degree in only one ear.
Their other ear functions fine and takes on all duties regarding receiving sound and transferring it to the brain for processing.
Causes of Single-Sided Hearing Loss
So, what causes SSHL?
SSHL can be brought on in many ways that are similar to any kind of hearing loss. You can be born with it, or it can develop over a lifetime of being exposed to loud noises. It can also develop after a one-time loud noise experience, such as being too close to fireworks or a gunshot.
Single-sided hearing loss can also creep up due to an excess of earwax. If your wax builds up or becomes impacted, then that will block sound from entering your ear canal. This makes it difficult for your eardrum to vibrate and process the sounds.
Other possibilities include fluid build-up or ear infections. Both of these conditions can present themselves in only one ear.
Another common cause of single-sided hearing loss is self-inflicted. We often see patients who try to clean their ears with cotton swabs or bobby pins. We strongly urge everyone to avoid this practice.
The results are never positive as you will either push earwax deeper in your canal, causing impaction, or you will push too deep with your cotton swab and puncture your eardrum. This is very painful and irreversible.
Identifying Single-Sided Hearing Loss in a Loved One
Identifying and then admitting when you or a loved one has a hearing issue can be tough. We have conversations every day with patients who regret not coming to see us sooner. If you notice any of these symptoms, please see us immediately.
Many occupations can cause single-sided hearing loss because of the consistency of the damage being incurred. A truck driver, for example, who spends thousands of hours driving with the window down will have an increased risk of developing SSHL in their left ear.
Take note of how your loved ones listen to you and see if they tilt their head one way or another. With healthy hearing, both ears work together to gather sound by facing the source head-on. Those with only one healthy ear will point in the direction they want to listen.
We have two options at our disposal to address SSHL. The correct diagnosis will depend on the quality of your hearing in the “good ear.”
We use a CROS device in conjunction with a traditional hearing aid for those who have healthy hearing on one side. The CROS device is used to capture sound and transfer it to the good side for processing.
If your hearing loss is worse in one ear than the other, then we use a BICROS device. This works the same as a CROS, except the hearing device in your good ear is stronger and more calibrated to transmit sounds as well as receive them from the weak ear.
What Are the First Steps to Recovery
To get the proper treatment, we always administer a comprehensive hearing assessment at the beginning. This will give us all the information we need to make an accurate diagnosis and treat your specific hearing issue.
Sometimes it may be a case of wax build-up which does not require the use of hearing aids. No one can assert an opinion until all the information is gathered.
If you have any questions regarding this technology or anything else related to the good health of your hearing, you can always call us. We are standing by to help you in any way that we can.