You’re probably familiar with common culprits that cause hearing loss in both ears. Prolonged exposure to loud noises, aging, and hereditary conditions are all known to affect hearing, especially in older adults. While those causes typically affect both ears, it’s possible that only one ear could be affected. A host of external factors can also cause hearing loss in only one ear, otherwise known as unilateral hearing loss. If you’re experiencing hearing loss in only one ear, the sensation can be jarring. Luckily, unilateral hearing loss can be treated once you’ve identified what causes hearing loss in one ear.
What Causes Hearing Loss in One Ear?
Several common, curable illnesses can lead to temporary hearing loss in one ear. Everyday ailments like shingles or swimmers’ ear can both lead to unilateral hearing loss. Ear infections can also lead to temporary hearing loss by causing uncomfortable fluid buildup in one or both ears. Finally, an overproduction of earwax can clog the ear canal. Luckily, unilateral hearing loss can be treated in each of these relatively common cases. Treatment can be simple, ranging from antibiotic eardrops to ear irrigation, a relatively non-invasive in-office procedure to ease buildup. While several of these conditions can be treated at home, we recommend reaching out to your audiologist to ensure safe, speedy treatment.
It’s crucial to protect your ears from major sounds in order to maintain excellent long-term hearing. Power tools, loud music, and gunshots can all damage hearing over time. You’re probably aware of practices to conserve your hearing and the hearing of those around you, like small children. However, some major sounds like sirens and firecrackers can come as a surprise. In those cases, hearing loss may not be immediately curable, but you still have options. Hearing aids can be a great solution for unexpected hearing loss. Hearing aid technology has developed significantly in recent years, making it possible to find a discreet, functional option that fits your lifestyle.
In some situations, a prescription medication for another condition may be what causes hearing loss in one ear. Chemotherapy drugs, for example, can cause hearing loss, dizziness, and disorientation. Diuretics like furosemide, which is frequently prescribed after a major cardiac event, can also impact hearing, as can a variety of antibiotics. Fortunately, hearing loss often occurs as a temporary side effect with many of these drugs. That means that full hearing is typically restored after ceasing treatment. If unilateral hearing loss continues for an extended period of time, hearing aids could be a good option to minimize your discomfort.
Unfortunately, some serious conditions can cause irreversible unilateral hearing loss. Acoustic neuroma, for example, is a kind of benign tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain (source). Several treatment options are available for acoustic neuroma. Options range from simple monitoring to full-scale radiation treatments depending on severity. Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder, can cause unilateral hearing loss as well. In addition, Ménière’s can cause vertigo, uncomfortable pressure, and tinnitus. Although Ménière’s disease is an incurable condition, it is possible to assuage the discomfort. Depending on your needs, medication, middle ear injections, and installation of a Meniett device can all improve the condition. In the case of each of these serious conditions, we recommend consulting an audiologist to find a solution that works for you.
Whether you’re dealing with a minor issue like swimmer’s ear or a serious condition like Ménière’s disease, one thing is certain: Unilateral hearing loss is downright uncomfortable. At Apex Audiology, we offer comprehensive diagnostic hearing evaluations to identify the cause of your hearing loss. Once we pinpoint the cause of your discomfort, we can help guide you to a solution that fits your needs. Schedule an appointment online today.