I Have One ‘Dead’ Ear – Can You Help Me?

01/18/2022 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources


One-sided hearing loss or unilateral hearing loss is when you have reduced hearing in one ear only. It is estimated to affect over 60,000 Americans and is no respecter of age or gender.

In some cases, unilateral hearing loss can cause single-sided deafness, which is what is commonly described as a “dead ear.”

With treatment, unilateral hearing loss can be reversible, but for many people, hearing loss is permanent and affects every aspect of their life.

Although hearing loss only affects one ear, the long-term effects are just as drastic, making loud environments particularly uncomfortable.

Some individuals may find that they have to position themselves in certain places to hear well in their “good ear.”

How Does Single-Sided Deafness Occur?

Some people can be born with no hearing in one ear, which is often recognized by difficulty in both learning and social interaction during preschool.

Other causes can be as a result of a disease or infection that damages the nerve cells, which are vital for transmitting sound to the brain.

Most commonly, unilateral hearing loss occurs as a result of environmental factors that have put them at risk.

For example, truck drivers are especially at risk of unilateral hearing loss, as their left ear is subjected to the loud sound of the engines and road. 

In these circumstances, hearing protection is vital to protect against damaging noise decibels.

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Single-Sided Deafness Treatment

Often, we are asked, “Can my deaf ear be treated?”

The answer is yes it can.

A CROS hearing aid or a BiCROS hearing aid works by sending the speech signals from the “dead” ear over into the “good” ear.

Many patients like this option because they can have a conversation with two people on both sides, without having to turn their heads or position themselves to hear best.

These types of hearing aids are extremely effective in treating hearing loss in one ear.

Before recommending any device, your audiologist will test your hearing to work out your individual listening requirements and how you interpret sound.

It’s important to get your hearing checked immediately if you notice a hearing loss in one ear. Sometimes, it could be a simple buildup of wax, which may be causing a fullness sensation or a temporary hearing loss.

Either way, it’s always best to be safe than sorry and schedule a hearing check.

If you would like to find out more about unilateral hearing loss or are interested in anything discussed in this article, give us a call at (812) 532-3011.

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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.