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 were in the front row for the entire rock concert last night. It isn’t exactly hearing-healthy, but it’s enjoyable, and the next day, you wake up with both ears ringing. (That part’s less enjoyable.)

But what if you awaken and can only hear out of one ear? The rock concert is most likely not to blame in that situation. Something else may be at work. And you might be a little concerned when you experience hearing loss in only one ear.

What’s more, your hearing might also be a little out of whack. Usually, your brain is processing information from both ears. So it can be disorienting to get signals from only one ear.

Why hearing loss in one ear causes problems

Your ears basically work together (no pun intended) with each other. Your two outward facing ears help you hear more accurately, similar to how your two front facing eyes help with depth perception. So the loss of hearing in one ear can wreak havoc. Amongst the most prominent impacts are the following:

  • Distinguishing the direction of sound can become a real challenge: You hear someone attempting to get your attention, but looking around, you can’t locate where they are. When your hearing disappears in one ear, it’s really challenging for your brain to triangulate the origin of sounds.
  • When you’re in a loud setting it becomes extremely difficult to hear: Loud settings such as event venues or noisy restaurants can become overwhelming with just one ear working. That’s because all that sound appears to be coming from every-which-direction randomly.
  • You can’t tell how loud anything is: In the same way as you need both ears to triangulate direction, you sort of need both ears to determine how loud something is. Think about it like this: If you can’t figure out where a sound is coming from, it’s impossible to detect whether that sound is quiet or just away.
  • Your brain gets exhausted: Your brain will become more fatigued faster if you can only hear from one ear. That’s because it’s failing to get the whole sound range from only one ear so it’s working overly hard to make up for it. This is especially true when hearing loss in one ear suddenly occurs. This can make a lot of tasks during your daily life more exhausting.

So how does hearing loss in one ear happen?

“Single sided Hearing Loss” or “unilateral hearing loss” are technical terms for when hearing is impaired on one side. While the more ordinary kind of hearing loss (in both ears) is normally the result of noise-related damage, single-sided hearing loss is not. So, other possible factors need to be assessed.

Here are a few of the most common causes:

  • Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s Disease is a chronic hearing condition that can result in vertigo and hearing loss. In many cases, the disease advances asymmetrically: one ear may be impacted before the other. Hearing loss in one ear along with ringing is another typical symptom of Meniere’s Disease.
  • Irregular Bone Growth: It’s feasible, in extremely rare instances, that hearing loss on one side can be the outcome of irregular bone growth. This bone can, when it grows in a specific way, interfere with your ability to hear.
  • Earwax: Yes your hearing can be obstructed by too much earwax packed in your ear canal. It has a similar effect to wearing earplugs. If this is the situation, do not reach for a cotton swab. A cotton swab can just create a worse and more entrenched problem.
  • Other infections: Swelling is one of your body’s most common reactions to infection. It’s just how your body responds. This reaction isn’t always localized, so any infection that triggers inflammation can lead to the loss of hearing in one ear.
  • Ruptured eardrum: A ruptured eardrum will typically be extremely evident. Objects in the ear, head trauma, or loud noise (amongst other things) can be the cause of a ruptured eardrum. When the thin membrane dividing your ear canal and your middle ear gets a hole in it, this type of injury happens. The result can be really painful, and usually causes tinnitus or hearing loss in that ear.
  • Ear infections: Swelling usually results when you’re experiencing an ear infection. And it will extremely difficult to hear through a swollen, closed up ear canal.
  • Acoustic Neuroma: An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the nerves of the inner ear and might sound a little more intimidating than it usually is. You should still take this condition seriously, even though it’s not cancerous, it can still be potentially life threatening.

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

Treatments for single-sided hearing loss will vary depending on the root cause. Surgery might be the best solution for certain obstructions like tissue or bone growth. A ruptured eardrum or similar issues will normally heal on their own. Other problems like excessive earwax can be easily removed.

Your single-sided hearing loss, in some cases, may be permanent. We will help, in these situations, by prescribing one of two possible hearing aid solutions:

  • Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids: To help you make up for being able to hear from only one ear, these hearing aids make use of your bones to conduct the sound waves to your brain, bypassing much of the ear completely.

  • CROS Hearing Aid: This special kind of hearing aid is manufactured specifically for people who have 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 quite effective not to mention complex and very cool.

It all begins with your hearing specialist

There’s probably a good reason why you can only hear out of one ear. In other words, this is not a symptom you should be neglecting. Getting to the bottom of it is essential for hearing and your general health. So begin hearing out of both ears again by scheduling 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.

Questions? Talk To Us.