Can You Experience a Hearing Loss in One Ear?

10/07/2022 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Just because we have two ears doesn't mean we can neglect one or the other. They work best as a team, so let’s keep both of them healthy

Single-sided hearing loss (SSHL) is more common than studies show. Many people who experience it do not seek help or tell anyone in the hopes that it will fix itself or simply go away on its own. 

This condition is much easier to live with than hearing loss in both ears but is still very uncomfortable and detrimental to your lifestyle. It can also lead to other health issues. If left untreated, it can cause your “good ear” to be overworked, leading to many other problems. 

We want to raise awareness and educate everyone here in Lawrenceburg on the dangers of SSHL and what can be done about it. Early detection is our best chance to reduce the damage and provide relief as quickly as possible. 

What Is Single-Sided Hearing Loss?

The name of this condition is very self-explanatory. Single-sided hearing loss occurs when someone experiences a hearing loss of any degree in only one of their ears. 

Their other ear functions normally and does all the heavy lifting regarding receiving sound and transferring it to the brain for processing.

Causes of SSHL

SSHL can be caused in many ways, just like any other kind of hearing loss. 

  • You can be born with it.
  • It can develop over a lifetime of being exposed to loud noises. 

It can also develop after a one-time loud noise experience, such as being too close to fireworks or a gunshot. 

Another cause of single-sided hearing loss is due to an excess of earwax. If your wax builds up or becomes impacted within your ear canal, that will block sound from getting to your eardrum. This makes it difficult for your eardrum to identify vibrations to process the sounds.

Single-sided hearing loss can also be self-inflicted. We often see patients who try to clean their ears with cotton swabs or bobby pins. This is highly frowned upon in the audiological world. 

The results are never positive, as you’ll either push earwax deeper in your ear, causing impaction, or you will push too deep and puncture your eardrum. This is very painful and irreversible.

Single-Sided Hearing Loss Needs to Be Diagnosed by a Hearing Assessment. Schedule One Right Here.

Symptoms of SSHL in Yourself and Loved Ones

Identifying and then taking the next steps when you or a loved one has a hearing issue can be challenging. I have conversations daily with many people who regret not coming to address their issues sooner. 

Thousands of occupations can cause SSHL because of the consistency of the damage being incurred. A truck driver, for example, who spends thousands of hours driving with the window down, will have an increased risk of developing a single-sided hearing loss in their left ear. 

Take note of how your loved ones listen to you and see if they angle their head one way or another. With healthy hearing, both ears work together by facing the source head on. Those with only one healthy ear will point their good ear in the direction they want to listen.

How We Treat Single-Sided Hearing Loss

We have two top-rated and successful options at our disposal to treat SSHL. The correct diagnosis will depend on the quality of hearing in your healthy ear.


We use a CROS device with a traditional hearing aid for those with healthy hearing on one side. The CROS device captures the sound and transfers it to the good side for processing.


If your hearing loss is worse in one ear than the other, then we use a BICROS device. This works the same as a CROS, except the hearing device in your good ear is stronger and more calibrated to transmit sounds as well as receive them from the weaker ear.

What Are the First Steps to Relief?

The first step is always the same and very important. We administer a comprehensive hearing assessment at the beginning. This gives us the information we need to diagnose and treat your specific hearing issue accurately. 

It may be a case of wax buildup or fluid buildup, which does not require the use of hearing aids. This is why we perform the test first. No one can assert an opinion until all the information is gathered. 

If you have any questions regarding this technology or anything related to your hearing health, call us anytime. We are ready to help you in any way that we can.

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Dr. Person Au.D, CCC-A

Dr. Person has been a private practice owner since 2005. She currently specializes in hearing aids, tinnitus management and vestibular diagnostics, while operating in an unbundled service delivery model. Dr. Person is the host of The Unbundled Audiologist podcast. She serves as the incoming VP of Audiology for ISHA for a three year term. Her greatest accomplishment is creating a life where she can serve others while still spending quality time with her husband and two small children.