March 18, 2022

Hearing Loss in One Ear; What Are My Options?

Profound hearing loss in one ear with normal or near normal hearing in the other ear is referred to as Single Sided Deafness (SSD). This type of hearing loss can occur suddenly from a viral infection or it may occur gradually over time as a result of various ear disorders such as Menieres Disease. Whatever the cause, hearing with only one ear presents unique struggles and can often lead to a decreased quality of life.

Our bodies are designed with two ears for important reasons:

  • Improved ability to understand speech amongst competing noise such as talking with a family member while the television is on in the next room
  • Localization, or knowing where sound is coming from
  • Improved access to sound; the volume naturally increases when the brain hears with two ears so decreased volume makes it more difficult to detect sound around you
  • Easier listening: when one ear is doing all the listening this places a higher workload on the brain, leading to increased fatigue and can lead to less enjoyment in conversation and willingness to participate in social activities

Often, a hearing aid does little to improve the clarity of speech for those with SSD creating frustration for hearing aid users and their families. A CROS hearing aid may be a good option for those looking for awareness of sound on their deafened side but it will not address the difficulties listed above.

A cochlear implant is a device that bypasses the damaged portion of the inner ear responsible for stimulating the hearing nerve to deliver sound to the brain in a much more effective way. With time, the brain uses this information to understand speech.

The biggest barrier for those with SSD has historically been insurance coverage. Unfortunately, despite years of clinical and anecdotal research proving the benefits of a cochlear implant for those with SSD, many insurance companies still view a cochlear implant as an option only for people with profound hearing loss in both ears. Luckily, the cochlear implant manufactures are making strides in working towards more consistent coverage of cochlear implants for people with SSD. They are doing so by applying for and obtaining FDA approval.

Med El and most recently Cochlear Americas both have FDA approval for the use of cochlear implants as treatment for adults with profound hearing loss in one ear and normal to near normal hearing in the other ear. This is exciting progress as we work towards providing greater access to better hearing for those with SSD.

If you have profound hearing loss in one ear and would like to learn more about your options please give our office a call at 904-399-0350 to schedule an appointment.


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