Loss of hearing is a condition that can occur with varying degrees of severity and can also affect only a single ear. This may sound strange, but it is not generally an unusual occurrence. People with hearing damage in only one ear can have either regular hearing in the other or can have varying degrees of hearing loss in their other ear as well.
One way to tell whether you have damaged hearing in one of your ears is when you are unable to locate the source of sounds, have trouble in comprehending speech sounds, and have difficulty in hearing sounds that are high pitched. People with hearing damage to a single ear often have tinnitus along with hearing loss.
Hearing loss in a single ear can result because of several reasons. Many of these reasons are due to various health conditions such as measles, Waardenburg syndrome, meningitis, Meniere’s disease, mumps, mastoiditis, acoustic neuroma, or other infections that are either bacterial or viral in nature.
There are times when physical abnormalities such as tumors or ruptured blood vessels within your inner ear can result in hearing damage in one ear. Other times physical trauma can be the culprit, such as a direct blow to the ear or head.
While people may not be as concerned about losing their hearing in a single ear since they are often able to hear well with their other ear, there are reasons not to take this type of hearing loss lightly. People with hearing loss in only one ear often have trouble pinpointing the source of sounds and hearing a single voice amidst loud background noises. These subtle problems can often cause what is known as the head shadow effect. This effect is used to define the inability to hear sound levels within the higher frequency range due to the incapacity of sound signals to travel all the way around the afflicted person’s head in order to reach the ear that has better hearing.
Due to the head shadow effect, several important sounds simply go unrecognized due to the shadowing effect of the head. This loss of sound happens more with higher frequency sounds, whereas lower frequency sound signals have the ability to travel around the afflicted person’s head in order to reach the ear that can function more efficiently. This lack of even sound perception can result in the person’s inability to hear the full richness of each sound and make sounds appear muffled or flat.
More severe effects of losing your hearing in only one ear is the onset of vertigo or losing your sense of equilibrium, headaches, increased levels of tinnitus, stress, and anxiety. Your social skills and personal relationships may suffer as you may become more irritable. Your communication skills may also take a nosedive since you would be unable to hear several chunks of the conversation, especially if the speaker has a higher pitched voice.
Now that you are aware of the dangers of losing your hearing in a single ear, what can you do about it? A simple hearing will help examine the severity and type of hearing loss that you are facing. Your audiologist may suggest that you get hearing aids to eliminate the head shadow effect so that you can hear better and restore your sense of confidence.
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