Unilateral hearing loss, or single sided deafness, is more prevalent than people realize, particularly in kids.As a result, the public sees hearing loss as a binary — either someone has typical hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on each side, but that ignores one form of hearing loss entirely.
A 1998 study thought that approximately 400,000 kids had a unilateral hearing loss due to injury or disease in the moment. It is safe to say this amount has gone up in that past two decades.
What is Single-Sided hearing loss and What Causes It?
As its name implies, single-sided hearing loss indicates a decrease in hearing just in one ear.In extreme cases, deep deafness is potential. The nonfunctioning ear is incapable of hearing at all and that person is left with monaural audio quality — their hearing is limited to one side of their human body.
Causes of unilateral hearing loss vary. It can be caused by trauma, for instance, someone standing beside a gun fire on the left might get profound or moderate hearing loss in that ear. A disorder may lead to this issue, too, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
No matter the cause, an individual who has unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different way of processing audio.
Management of the Sound
The brain uses the ears nearly like a compass. It identifies the direction of sound based on which ear registers it initially and in the maximum volume.
With the single-sided hearing loss, the sound is only going to come in one ear no matter what direction it originates. In case you have hearing from the left ear, then your mind will turn to look for the sound even when the person talking is on the right.
Think for a minute what that would be similar to. The sound would enter 1 side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you know where a person speaking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss is not deep, sound management is catchy.
Focusing on Sound
The mind also uses the ears to filter out background noise. It informs one ear, the one nearest to the sound you wish to focus on, to listen to a voice. The other ear handles the background noises. This is precisely why in a noisy restaurant, so you can still focus on the dialogue at the table.
When you can’t use that tool, the brain becomes confused. It is unable to filter out background noises like a fan blowing, so that’s everything you hear.
The Ability to Multitask
The mind has a lot happening at any given time but having use of two ears enables it to multitask. That’s the reason you can sit and read your social media account whilst watching TV or having a conversation. With just one functioning ear, the brain loses that ability to do something when listening. It has to prioritize between what you hear and what you see, so you usually miss out on the conversation around you while you navigate your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Impact
The mind shadow effect describes how certain sounds are unavailable to an individual with a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have extended frequencies so that they bend enough to wrap around the head and reach the working ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and don’t survive the journey.
If you are standing beside an individual having a high pitched voice, then you might not know what they say if you don’t turn so the good ear is facing them. On the flip side, you might hear someone with a deep voice just fine regardless of what side they are on because they produce longer sound waves that make it to either ear.
Individuals with only minor hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to adapt. They learn fast to turn their mind a certain way to listen to a friend talk, for instance. For those who struggle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid may be work around that returns their lateral hearing.