Unilateral hearing loss, or single sided deafness, is more widespread than people realize, notably in kids.As a result, the public sees hearing loss as a black and white — someone has healthy hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on both sides, but that ignores one particular form of hearing loss entirely.
A 1998 research estimated approximately 400,000 children had a unilateral hearing loss due to injury or disease in the moment. It’s safe to say this amount has gone up in that past two decades.
What’s Single-Sided Hearing Loss and What Causes It?
As its name implies, single-sided hearing loss indicates a decrease in hearing only in one ear.In intense cases, deep deafness is possible.
Reasons for premature hearing loss vary. It may be caused by trauma, for instance, someone standing beside a gun firing on the left may get profound or moderate hearing loss in that ear. A disorder may lead to the issue, too, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
No matter the origin, a person who has unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different method of processing sound.
Direction of the Sound
The brain uses the ears almost just like a compass. It defines the direction of noise based on which ear registers it first and at the highest volume.
With the single-sided hearing loss, the sound is only going to come in one ear no matter what way it comes from. If you have hearing in the left ear, then your head will turn left to search 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 one side no matter where what direction it comes from. How would you know where an individual talking to you personally is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t deep, sound management is catchy.
Honing in on Audio
The mind also uses the ears to filter out background noise. It tells one ear, the one closest to the sound that you wish to concentrate on, to listen to a voice. Your other ear handles the background sounds. That is why at a noisy restaurant, you may still concentrate on the dialogue at the dining table.
When you don’t have that tool, the mind gets confused. It’s not able to filter out background sounds like a fan blowing, so that’s everything you hear.
The Ability to Multitask
The mind has a lot happening at any one time but having use of two ears allows it to multitask. That’s why you can sit and examine your social media sites whilst watching TV or having a conversation. With only one functioning ear, the brain loses the ability to do one thing while listening. It has to prioritize between what you hear and what you see, which means you tend to miss out on the conversation around you while you browse 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 round the mind and reach the ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and do not survive the journey.
If you are standing beside an individual with a high pitched voice, you may not understand what they say unless you flip so the working ear is facing them. On the other hand, you may hear somebody having a deep voice just fine no matter what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves which make it to either ear.
Individuals with just minor hearing loss in just one ear have a tendency to adapt. They learn fast to turn their head a certain way to hear a buddy talk, for instance. For people who struggle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work around that yields their lateral hearing.