What is single sided hearing?

Our ability to hear the world around us is vital to our understanding of – and ability to engage with – the world around us.

When hearing becomes impaired, so too does our connection to our environment and our friends and family. That can mean a quick and pronounced deterioration in our psychological wellbeing.

Hearing loss can impact different people in different ways and does not always show up to the same extent in both ears.

When one ear experiences hearing loss while the other ear remains unaffected, it’s called single sided hearing (SSH), single sided deafness or unilateral hearing loss.

The effects of single sided hearing loss are different for each individual, but many people who lose hearing in one ear will experience some social, psychological and physical problems as a result of their hearing loss.

Luckily, there are treatments available which can treat the condition, allowing people with SSH to live normal lives and to minimise any side effects.

Causes of single sided hearing:

Single sided hearing can come from a range of caused. It’s most commonly caused by physical trauma, a viral or bacterial infection in the inner ear, an acoustic nerve tumour or Meniere’s Disease, a disease of the inner ear.

The cause of the single sided hearing will impact on the way that your Hearing & Health specialist recommends managing it.

Signs and symptoms of single sided hearing

There can be a range of side effects and symptoms of single sided hearing, which give a clear indication when a person is experiencing the condition.

For example, people experiencing single sided hearing may have trouble working out the direction of sounds, making crossing the road a more dangerous task.

Others may not be able to hear any sounds coming from a certain direction, particularly speech. It can also be difficult to make out words when there’s any background noise around.

All of this can lead to stress and anxiety and generally contribute to making the person’s life more difficult.

These lead on to other side effects. Single sided hearing can cause people to develop problems engaging with others as they find it hard to communicate effectively. They may also experience difficulty concentrating, making the condition a particularly difficult one for children who experience it. Children with hearing difficulties in one ear may experience speech and language delays, communication difficulties, and emotional and behavioural difficulties. It’s particularly important that the condition is treated quickly when children experience it, to minimise the impact it has on their adaptation to their environment.

What are the treatments of SSH?

The effects of SSH can be severely reduced through effective treatment. In fact, many people who experience it can have any hearing loss reduced completely with the right treatment.

A few of the most common treatments for single sided hearing are:

CROS Hearing Aid:

A Contra-lateral Routing of the Signal (CROS) system includes a microphone and hearing aid. The microphone is worn on the side where hearing is poorer, and effectively transmits the sound wirelessly to the other ear.

It is worn behind the ear like a normal hearing aid.

There are different options of this technology is available and Health & Hearing is happy to talk to you about what the best option will be for your personal situation.

Bone Conduction Implant:

A bone conduction implant is a medical device that transmits sound by direct conduction through the bone to the inner ear, meaning it bypasses the outer and middle ear.

A bone conduction system consists of a small titanium implant and sound processor. Sound is transmitted as vibrations from the sound processor to the implant, through bone to the inner ear.

This can help people experiencing single sided hearing experience 360 degree hearing.

Again, Health & Hearing is happy to talk through this option with you to work out if it may be the best for your circumstances.

Cochlear Implants:

cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. It differs from hearing aids, which amplify sounds, by mimicking the inner ear to provide sound signals to the brain.

While the cochlear implant surgery is more invasive than surgery for bone conduction implants, you will be using the hearing nerve from the poorer-hearing ear as opposed to the sound being transferred to the better-hearing ear.

If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing single sided hearing loss, please book into Health & Hearing for a free consultation to discuss your options.