The Living Sounds Blog
Sudden Hearing Loss in One Ear – Single Sided Deafness
Singles Sided Deafness (SDD) (otherwise known as Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss or Single Sided Hearing) is the sudden decline in hearing in one ear. Symptoms usually include loss of balance and/or dizziness, facial sensations or tingling, loss of taste, watering eyes, severe headaches, aching teeth and/or a clicking jaw.
What causes it?
Some possible causes of single sided deafness are:
- A severe head injury
- Drugs including prescription drugs known as ototoxic drugs can harm the hearing cells
- Viral or bacterial ear infections and tumours
- Some immunological diseases
- Circulatory system disorders
- Vascular conditions that result in thrombosis, embolism or haemorrhage
- Metabolic disorders
- Mumps and measles (sometimes)
Signs you might have SDD?
People with SDD experience hearing difficulties that hinder and impact their lives; they struggle with direction of sounds, and have difficulty separating speech while in the presence of background noise. Generally:
- It is difficult to hear conversations when the speaker is on the side of the non-hearing ear.
- In a room of co-workers it is difficult to locate a person who is speaking.
- When focusing on a telephone conversation, a speaker in the room is missed because the hearing ear is already occupied.
- In a social gathering, you stay on the periphery because it is often quieter and you can hear somewhat better form this position.
- When crossing a road, you give it your full attention and donâ€™t enter into conversations.
- For telephone conversations in a vehicle it is necessary to have a wireless blue tooth telephone connection otherwise the hearing ear is plugged with an ear bud and other road sounds are not heard.
- If you lay on the hearing ear in bed, you canâ€™t hear your alarm clock in the morning.
- Excess fatigue is often experienced because of the strain and effort required when listening.
What to do if you think you have SDD?
Timing is crucial. This type of hearing loss can happen suddenly; resulting in immediate deafness or symptoms can linger for three days and may result in permanent hearing loss in the affected ear if untreated.
Make an appointment with your medical doctor who can provide an emergency referral to an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). If your doctor isnâ€™t readily available, go to the emergency department in a hospital.
How do you treat it?
SDD is not a commonly recognized condition and may be missed if symptoms are not immediately addressed by a physician; awareness of its symptoms is relatively low; and early treatment is crucial in order to save your hearing in the affected ear.
Two well-known options that have been successful for many individuals are:
- A CROS or a BICROS system consisting of a hearing device and a CROS transmitter. The hearing device is worn on the better or normal hearing ear while a microphone worn on the deafened ear wirelessly transmits sounds from that side to the hearing aid thus providing a sensation of hearing from the deafened ear side. These devices can be purchased on a trial basis through Living Sounds Hearing Centre.
- If the CROS system is not satisfactory, you could consider a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Device) that is surgically implanted by an ENT. This device works by gently vibrating the mastoid bone on the poor side, which in turn, transmits vibrations through the head to the better hearing ear.