Single sided deafness, or unilateral hearing loss, is more prevalent than people realize, particularly in children. Age-related hearing loss, which impacts most adults sooner or later, will be lateral, to put it another way, it affects both ears to some degree. Because of this, the public sees hearing loss as being black and white — somebody has average hearing in both ears or decreased hearing on both sides, but that dismisses one particular kind of hearing loss entirely.
A 1998 study thought that around 400,000 kids had a unilateral hearing loss due to injury or disease at the time. It is safe to say this number has gone up in that past two decades.
What is Single-Sided Hearing Loss and What Makes It?
As its name suggests, single-sided hearing loss indicates a decrease in hearing just in one ear. The hearing loss can be conductive, sensorineural or mixed. In intense cases, deep deafness is potential.
Reasons for premature hearing loss differ. It may be caused by injury, for example, a person standing beside a gun fire on the left might end up with moderate or profound hearing loss in that ear. A disorder may lead to this issue, as well, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
Whatever the cause, an individual with unilateral hearing must adapt to a different way of processing audio.
Direction of the Sound
The brain utilizes the ears nearly just like a compass. It defines the direction of noise based on what ear registers it first and at the maximum volume. When somebody talks to you while positioned on the left, the brain sends a signal to flip in that way.
Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the sound will only come in one ear no matter what way it originates. If you have hearing from the left ear, your head will turn left to search for the sound even if the person speaking is on the right.
Pause for a second and consider what that would be similar to. The audio would enter one side no matter where what direction it comes from. How would you know where an individual talking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss is not profound, sound direction is catchy.
Honing in on Sound
The mind also employs the ears to filter out background sound. It tells one ear, the one nearest to the noise that you want to focus on, to listen for a voice. The other ear manages the background noises. That is precisely why in a noisy restaurant, so you can still concentrate on the conversation at the dining table.
Without that tool, the mind becomes confused. It’s not able to filter out background sounds like a fan blowing, so that is all you hear.
The Ability to Multitask
The brain has a lot going on at any one time but having use of two ears allows it to multitask. That is the reason you can sit and read your social media sites whilst watching TV or talking with family. With only one working ear, the mind loses the ability to do one thing while listening. It must prioritize between what you see and what you hear, which means you tend to miss out on the conversation around you while you navigate your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Impact
The head shadow effect describes how certain sounds are unavailable to an individual with a unilateral hearing loss. Low tones have extended frequencies so they bend enough to wrap around the head and reach the working ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and do not survive the journey.
If you’re standing beside a person having a high pitched voice, then you might not understand what they say if you don’t turn so the good ear is on their side. On the flip side, you might hear someone with a deep voice just fine regardless of what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves that make it into either ear.
Individuals with only minor hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to accommodate. They learn quickly to turn their mind a certain way to listen to a buddy speak, for example. For people who battle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work round that yields their lateral hearing.