Single sided deafness, or unilateral hearing loss, is much more widespread than people realize, notably in kids.Because of this, the average person sees hearing loss as being binary — somebody has typical hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on both sides, but that dismisses one particular kind of hearing loss entirely.
A 1998 study thought that around 400,000 children had a unilateral hearing loss due to trauma or disease at the time. It’s safe to say this amount has increased in that last two decades.
What’s Single-Sided Hearing Loss and What Makes It?
As the name implies, single-sided hearing loss suggests a decrease in hearing just in one ear.In intense instances, profound deafness is potential.
Reasons for premature hearing loss differ. It may be caused by trauma, for example, someone standing beside a gun firing on the left may end up with profound or moderate hearing loss in that ear. A disorder can lead to this issue, as well, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
No matter the cause, an individual who has unilateral hearing must adapt to a different way of processing audio.
Direction of the Audio
The mind uses the ears nearly like a compass. It identifies the direction of noise based on which ear registers it first and at the highest volume. When a person speaks to you while standing on the left, the brain sends a signal to turn in that way.
Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the noise is only going to come in one ear regardless of what direction it comes from. In case you have hearing in the left ear, then your head will turn left to look for the sound even when the person speaking is on the right.
Pause for a second and consider what that would be like. The audio would always enter one side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you understand where an individual speaking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t deep, sound direction is tricky.
Focusing on Sound
The mind also employs the ears to filter out background sound. It tells one ear, the one closest to the sound you want to focus on, to listen to a voice. Your other ear handles the background noises. That is precisely why at a noisy restaurant, you can still focus on the conversation at the dining table.
Without that tool, the mind gets confused. It’s not able to filter out background noises like a fan blowing, so that is everything you hear.
The mind has a lot happening at any given time but having use of two ears enables it to multitask. That is why you’re able to sit and examine your social media sites while watching Netflix or having a conversation. With just one working ear, the mind loses the ability to do one thing while listening. It has to prioritize between what you hear and what you see, so you usually miss out on the dialogue around you while you browse your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Effect
The head shadow effect describes how certain sounds are inaccessible to an individual with a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have extended frequencies so they bend enough to wrap round the mind and reach the working ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and don’t survive the trek.
If you are standing beside an individual having a high pitched voice, you might not understand what they say unless you flip so the good ear is on their side. On the other hand, you may hear somebody with a deep voice just fine no matter what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves that make it to either ear.
Individuals with only slight hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to accommodate. They learn fast to turn their mind a certain way to listen to a buddy speak, for instance. For people who battle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid may be work round that returns their lateral hearing to them.