Hearing loss can be challenging for anyone to experience, but it can be especially difficult if you only have hearing loss in one ear. Left unilateral hearing loss (LUSH) is a type of hearing loss that affects your ability to hear in one ear alone. In this blog post, we’ll explore some common causes of unilateral hearing loss as well as some tips on how to manage day-to-day life with only hearing in one ear. Discover everything you need to know about left unilateral hearing loss and its potential solutions from the specialist you trust.
What is Left Unilateral Hearing Loss?
Unilateral hearing loss is hearing loss in one ear alone while the other ear has normal hearing. When the hearing loss is in both ears, it is referred to as bilateral hearing loss. It is important to note that having unilateral hearing loss in one ear does not necessarily mean you will have bilateral hearing loss in the future. When one ear has normal hearing and the other has significant hearing loss, the normal ear must do more of the work of hearing. This extra work can cause the normal ear to fatigue, which can lead to more frequent hearing loss.
Genetics and Age as a Cause of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Hearing loss can occur for any number of reasons, including genetics and age. Genetics are the cause of hearing loss in about 10% of cases. Age-related hearing loss is another common cause of hearing loss. Individuals who are older than 50 years of age have a 10% chance of developing hearing loss every year. This risk increases with age, and the average person who is 65 years old has a 50% chance of developing some degree of hearing loss. Whether or not you have unilateral hearing loss in one ear can be influenced by your genetics and age. If you have a family history of hearing loss or you are getting older, you may be more likely to experience hearing loss in one ear.
Exposure to Loud Noises as a Cause of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Exposure to loud noises is another common cause of hearing loss in one ear. These loud noises may occur from working in a noisy environment or attending loud concerts or sporting events. Loud noises can damage both your hearing and your ability to communicate. When one ear is experiencing hearing loss due to loud noises, it can make it difficult to understand what others are saying. Loud noises can also cause tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing noise in the ears. One ear may be more susceptible to hearing loss if it is closer to the source of the loud noise.
Tumors as a Cause of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Certain tumors can grow around the structures and nerves that are responsible for hearing. If these tumors are close enough to the hearing structures, they can cause hearing loss in one ear. Tumors can occur in the ear itself (such as an acoustic neuroma) or somewhere along the cranial nerves that travel to and from the ear. Tumors can also occur in the middle ear, which is the space behind the eardrum that contains the three smallest bones in the body. Tumors in the ear or along the cranial nerves can cause unilateral hearing loss in one ear. Tumors in the middle ear can cause hearing loss in one ear, along with other signs and symptoms, including pain, pressure, and dizziness.
Other Possible Causes of Hearing Loss in One Ear
Other possible causes of hearing loss in one ear include ear infections, foreign bodies, and otosclerosis. Ear infections and foreign bodies can cause hearing loss in one ear when they grow in or around the ear structures that are responsible for hearing. Ears have tiny bones called ossicles that are important to hearing. When something gets stuck in the ear and creates a blockage, it can damage these ossicles, resulting in hearing loss in one ear. Ears also have a small organ called the cochlea, which is responsible for hearing. When the cochlea is damaged, the hearing structures are damaged, too, leading to hearing loss in one ear.
While unilateral hearing loss can be frustrating, keep in mind that it is not always permanent. If you are experiencing unilateral hearing loss in one ear, you should see your doctor to determine the cause. Your doctor can perform tests and make recommendations for treating the underlying cause of your hearing loss. Your doctor may suggest wearing earplugs at loud places to prevent further damage to your hearing, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. You can also consider wearing a hearing aid in your affected ear to amplify the sounds you can hear.