Unilateral hearing loss, or single sided deafness, is more widespread than people realize, notably in kids. Age-related hearing loss, which worries most adults sooner or later, will become lateral, to put it simply, it affects both ears to a extent. As a result, the average person sees hearing loss as being binary — either somebody has typical hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on both sides, but that dismisses one form of hearing loss altogether.
A 1998 study thought that around 400,000 kids had a unilateral hearing loss due to injury or disease in the moment. It’s safe to say this number has gone up in that past two decades.
What’s Single-Sided hearing loss and What Causes It?
As the name suggests, single-sided hearing loss indicates a reduction in hearing just in one ear.In intense cases, profound deafness is potential. The nonfunctioning ear is incapable of hearing at all and that individual is left with monaural sound quality — their hearing is limited to a side of their body.
Reasons for premature hearing loss differ. It may be the result of injury, for instance, someone standing beside a gun firing on the left might end up with profound or moderate hearing loss in that ear. A disorder can lead to this problem, too, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
No matter the origin, an individual who has unilateral hearing must adapt to a different method of processing sound.
Management of the Sound
The brain utilizes the ears almost like a compass. It identifies the direction of noise based on which ear registers it first and at the highest volume.
With the single-sided hearing loss, the noise is only going to come in one ear regardless of what way it comes from. In case you have hearing from the left ear, then your head will turn left to search for the noise even when the person talking is on the right.
Pause for a minute and consider what that would be like. The audio would enter 1 side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you know where an individual talking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t deep, sound direction is catchy.
Honing in on Sound
The brain also employs the ears to filter out background sound. It tells one ear, the one nearest to the sound that you want to concentrate on, to listen for a voice. Your other ear manages the background noises. That is precisely why at a noisy restaurant, so you may still focus on the dialogue at the table.
Without that tool, the mind gets confused. It’s not able to filter out background sounds like a fan running, so that is all you hear.
The mind has a lot going on at any given time but having two ears enables it to multitask. That’s why you’re able to sit and examine your social media sites while watching Netflix or having a conversation. With only one working ear, the brain loses that ability to do something when listening. It must prioritize between what you see and what you hear, so you tend to miss out on the conversation around you while you navigate your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Effect
The head shadow effect describes how certain sounds are inaccessible to a person with a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have extended frequencies so they bend enough to wrap round the mind and reach the ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and don’t survive the trek.
If you are standing beside an individual with a high pitched voice, then you may not understand what they say if you don’t turn so the good ear is facing them. On the flip side, you may hear someone with a deep voice just fine regardless of what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves which make it into either ear.
People with only minor hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to accommodate. They learn quickly to turn their head a certain way to listen to a friend talk, for instance. For people who battle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid may be work round that yields their lateral hearing to them.