Causes of hearing loss in one ear
Hearing loss in one ear can be both sudden and dramatic. Losing your hearing in one ear is also serious and potentially permanent. So, what can cause hearing loss in one ear? There are a wide range of factors that can cause deafness in one ear (unilateral hearing loss) including:
- SSHL– Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
- Infections and autoimmune diseases
- Head injuries
- Ménière’s disease
- Ototoxic drugs
Other causes may include a build-up of earwax or swimmers ear (ear infection). But whatever the cause it always pays to have your hearing checked out by a House of Hearing specialist or a doctor.
Sudden hearing loss
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) or sudden hearing loss causes hearing loss in one ear 90% of the time and can be a common cause hearing loss in one ear. SSHL occurs over a period of up to 72 hours and is dramatic. Fortunately, around 85% of people who seek medical help will recover at least some or all of their hearing. But it is vital that you seek medical attention urgently.
Research shows a strong link between SSHL and the possibility of a stroke or other heart disease. It’s just one more reason to get your hearing tested.
Infections and autoimmune diseases
A number of diseases and autoimmune disorders may cause hearing loss in one ear including:
- Viral infections; mumps, Rubella, Epstein-Barr, Shingles
- Glue ear (Otitis externa with effusion)
- Autoimmune diseases such as Cogan’s syndrome
In all cases, it is extremely important that you seek medical attention immediately because permanent hearing loss can result and is irreversible. In fact, mumps causes more single ear deafness in children than any other cause. Autoimmune disorders such as Cogan’s syndrome are rare and the cause is unknown but it can be treated (with mixed success) usually with corticosteroids.
Head injuries and burst ear drums often cause hearing loss in one ear. Head injuries may cause hearing loss by damaging the ear drum and ear itself or through damage to the auditory processing parts of the brain. Violent contact sports, road accidents, and loud concerts are all linked to unilateral hearing loss.
Fortunately, relatively minor damage such as small eardrum tears usually heals well. However, whether hearing loss is the result of a blunt force trauma or loud noise you should see a doctor.
Ménière’s disease usually occurs in adults between the ages of 40 and 60 and is marked by severe vertigo, tinnitus and frequently deafness in one ear. Meniere’s can be a common cause of hearing loss in one ear. Generally about 60% of cases get better without intervention but there are treatments that will help ease the symptoms.
A surprising number of commonly used drugs list hearing loss as a side effect of which hearing loss in one ear may be a common side effect. These include aspirin, Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and some antibiotics. You must not stop taking prescription drugs without consulting your doctor. However, if you are concerned about the possibility of hearing loss then you should discuss this with your medical advisor.