Unilateral hearing loss is hearing loss that affects one ear, or that affects one ear much more severely than the other. When unilateral hearing loss is severe or profound, it may be called unilateral deafness or single-sided deafness. Unilateral hearing loss is common, affecting an estimated 60,000 people in the United States.
Signs of Unilateral Hearing Loss
In addition to the usual signs of hearing loss, such as feeling as though voices are muffled, difficulty making out speech in background noise, asking people to repeat themselves frequently and turning up the TV louder than others prefer, signs of unilateral hearing loss include:
- Problems localizing sound (identifying the direction it is coming from)
- Difficulty hearing people on one side of you
- Trouble focusing on individual sounds when other sounds are present
Causes of Unilateral Hearing Loss
Unilateral hearing loss has many causes, the most common of which include:
- Trauma/head injury
- Acoustic neuroma
- Viral/bacterial infections
Less commonly, it may be caused by maternal illness, microtia, Meniere’s disease and mastoiditis.
Treatment for Unilateral Hearing Loss
Unilateral hearing loss can be treated surgically or non-surgically. The preferred treatment is with hearing aids, although special models are used for unilateral hearing loss.
CROS Hearing Aid
When there is hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other, a CROS hearing aid is used. These hearing aids send sound from the affected ear to the normal ear, typically via wireless transmission, to help localize sounds.
BiCROS Hearing Aid
When there is severe hearing loss in one ear and mild hearing loss in the other ear, a BiCROS hearing aid is used. This type both sends sound from the bad ear to the better ear and also amplifies the sound on the side of the less affected ear to a volume that can be heard easily.
Cochlear implants are a surgical solution used to treat severe sensorineural hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound, cochlear implants bypass the damaged parts of the inner ear to deliver sound signal directly to the auditory nerve.
Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs) are another surgical solution used to treat severe conductive hearing loss, which means some sort of malformation prevents sound from traveling through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. They work by conducting soundwaves through the bone as vibrations and stimulating the inner ear that way.
For more information about unilateral hearing loss or to schedule an appointment, call Hearing Center of Lake Charles today.