Single-sided deafness, or unilateral hearing loss, is much more common than people realize, prominently in kids. Age-related hearing loss, which affects most adults sooner or later, tends to be lateral, to put it simply, it affects both ears to some point. As a result, the public sees hearing loss as a black and white — somebody has typical hearing in both ears or decreased hearing on both sides, but that dismisses one particular form of hearing loss altogether.
A 1998 research thought that around 400,000 children had a unilateral hearing loss due to injury or disease at the time. It is safe to say this amount has gone up in that last two decades.
What is Single-Sided hearing loss and What Makes It?
As its name implies, single-sided hearing loss suggests a reduction in hearing only in one ear.In intense instances, profound deafness is potential.
Reasons for premature hearing loss vary. It may be caused by injury, for example, a person standing next to a gun firing on the left might end up with profound or moderate hearing loss in that ear. A disease may lead to this problem, as well, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
Whatever the origin, an individual who has unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different way of processing audio.
Management of the Audio
The brain uses the ears nearly like a compass. It defines the direction of noise based on what ear registers it initially and at the highest volume.
Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the noise is only going to come in one ear no matter what way it originates. In case you have hearing in the left ear, your mind will turn left to look for the noise even when the person speaking is on the right.
Think for a minute what that would be similar to. The audio would always enter 1 side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you know where a person speaking to you personally is standing? Even if the hearing loss is not profound, sound management is tricky.
Honing in on Audio
The mind also uses the ears to filter out background noise. It tells one ear, the one closest to the noise that you want to focus on, to listen to a voice. The other ear manages the background sounds. This is why in a noisy restaurant, so you may still focus on the dialogue at the table.
When you can’t use that tool, the brain becomes confused. It’s not able to filter out background noises like a fan blowing, so that is everything you hear.
The brain has a lot happening at any given time but having use of two ears enables it to multitask. That is the reason you’re able to sit and examine your social media sites whilst watching Netflix or talking with family. With only one working ear, the brain loses that ability to do one thing when listening. It must prioritize between what you hear and what you see, so you usually lose out on the conversation around you while you browse your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Impact
The head shadow effect clarifies 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 mind and reach the working ear. High pitches have shorter wavelengths and don’t survive the journey.
If you are standing beside a person with a high pitched voice, you may not know what they say if you don’t turn so the working ear is on their side. On the flip side, you might hear somebody with a deep voice just fine no matter what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves that make it to either ear.
People with just slight hearing loss in only one ear tend to adapt. They learn fast to turn their mind a certain way to hear a friend talk, for instance. For those who struggle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work around that yields their lateral hearing to them.