What Causes Hearing Loss in One Ear?

Hearing loss in one ear is often described as unilateral hearing loss, or single-sided deafness (SSD). SSD is a type of hearing loss where there is a complete hearing loss in one ear and anything from normal hearing to profound hearing loss in the other ear.

a child covering one ear

People who suffer from SSD can often have trouble locating sounds, understanding speech, focusing on a single voice and hearing high-frequency sounds. They may also experience severe tinnitus. The causes, effects and treatments of SSD are multiple.

Causes of Hearing Loss in One Ear

There are a number of potential causes of SSD, which are likely to result in different symptoms and treatment methods. Some potential causes of SSD include:

  • Damage to the ear
  • Head trauma
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Mastoiditis
  • Waardenburg syndrome
  • Tumours
  • Burst blood vessel in the inner ear
  • Illnesses including measles, mumps and meningitis and more

The Impact of Single-Sided Deafness

There are a number of indicators that SSD or unilateral hearing loss may be present. The most obvious effects are that the person has trouble:

  • Hearing conversation on the impaired side
  • Focussing on a single voice in a noisy environment
  • Locating where sounds are originating

These difficulties are the result of a phenomenon called “the head shadow effect”. The head shadow effect describes the effect of high-frequency sounds which cannot be perceived due to their inability to travel around the head to reach the functioning ear. The high-frequency sounds, including many sounds used in speech, are “shadowed” by the head and are lost to the person with SSD. Low-frequency sounds, however, can bend around the head to reach the functioning ear. This makes sound depth perception difficult for the brain and sounds may seem flat or muddled, like when we try to speak to someone in a noisy environment and their voice becomes lost, or when someone at the other end of the phone is in a crowded street.

In addition to the head shadow effect, SSD has a number of other symptoms, including:

  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness or vertigo – feeling off balance
  • Headaches
  • Stress, irritability, anxiousness
  • Speaking loudly
  • Poor social and interpersonal skills
  • Poor communication skills

Treatment for SSD

While SSD is often permanent, many of the above effects of hearing loss in one ear are treatable. For tinnitus, which is often present when hearing loss occurs, special hearing tests and tinnitus treatments are available, including tinnitus retraining therapy.

To treat SSD, you will need to undergo a hearing test with an audiologist. They will assess your hearing loss and try to determine a cause before recommending a particular type of hearing aid suitable for your condition. The hearing aid should reduce the head shadow effect and may restore some of the lost sound.

If you’re experiencing hearing loss in one ear, book an appointment with the audiologists at one of Hearing And Audiology’s four locations. You can find a booking online or call us on 08 (08) 9388 8003 to discuss your symptoms.

Types of Hearing Loss

If you struggle to understand people during conversations and frequently have to ask them to repeat what they say, you might be suffering from hearing loss. By looking at the types of hearing loss, we can gain better insights into the causes, tests and treatments available for your particular type of hearing loss.

There are three types, which involve damage to the inner, outer or middle ear and can be either acquired or present from birth. Read on to learn more.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss can be caused by infection, a perforated eardrum, or any number of diseases and conditions that block the ear canal and prevent sound from travelling from the outer or middle ear into the inner ear. It may alternatively be caused by a condition that prevents the middle ear from conducting sound vibrations through the stapes to the inner ear.

The result of conductive hearing loss is a loss of loudness and a reduction in intensity of sound. The degree of hearing loss varies, but can usually be overcome by simply increasing the loudness of sounds – i.e. by speaking loudly.

You cannot completely lose your hearing from conductive hearing loss. Medical or surgical means are often effective at removing blockages and fully or partially restoring hearing. If there is any hearing loss remaining, it can be overcome with the use of a hearing aid in most cases.

Young man making hearing gesture - hearing loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss can be the result of ageing, head trauma, excessive noise exposure, malformation of the inner ear, diseases and hereditary hearing loss. It commonly occurs as a person ages and is experienced as a loss of loudness and a lack of clarity in sound, often described as distortion.

Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by:

  • Inner ear dysfunction
  • Hearing nerve dysfunction
  • Damage to the organ of Corti
  • Inability of hair cells to stimulate hearing nerves
  • Metabolic problem in the inner ear fluids

There are rarely medical treatments for this type of hearing loss, and it is typically irreversible and permanent. However, hearing aids and devices are recommended to help sufferers of sensorineural hearing loss regain some clarity and loudness.

Mixed Hearing Loss

As the name suggests, a mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. It is caused by problems in both the conductive pathway and the nerve pathway (the outer, middle and inner ear). As well as suffering permanent hearing loss in the inner ear, the person suffers from a conductive problem or blockage that prevents sound from travelling into the inner ear, making the degree of hearing loss worse.

The conductive component of mixed hearing loss may be treatable by medical or surgical means to restore some hearing. However, the sensorineural component of mixed hearing loss is generally untreatable. Hearing aids and devices are recommended for people with mixed hearing loss, but only once the conductive issue has been addressed by a hearing specialist.

If you suspect you’re suffering from hearing loss, why not come in and have your hearing tested by our friendly team of audiologists? We run hearing tests at all of our four Western Australia locations. Find a booking online or call us on 08 (08) 9388 8003 today.

Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss?


Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss?

Contributed by Lisa Packer, staff writer, Healthy Hearing | Monday, January 25th,

With the New Year upon us, it is likely that many of you have resolved to finally start exercising, and to make this the year to get fit. Perhaps spring break is looming, and you have visions of finally getting that buff beach body you always wanted. Or maybe you just want to start exercising more for your overall health. There is no denying that exercise is beneficial to the body and mind. But be careful, because that new fitness routing might come with an unpleasant side effect: hearing loss.

Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss

Straining or holding your breath
during exercise can cause pressure
to build up in the inner ear.

One fitness program in particular, which is rapidly gaining a cult following across the nation, can also have negative consequences for your hearing if you are not careful. CrossFit, which is a training program first used by the police and military special forces, is a high intensity workout that combines weightlifting, cardio, core training and more. Designed to push the body to its limits, CrossFit can deliver results in the form of peak physical fitness. But some participants are paying a high price for getting in shape.

Two common practices to avoid

You may be asking, “What does exercise have to do with my ears?” To illustrate, let’s look at two common practices that can occur during the weightlifting portion of CrossFit. The first of these is straining. Straining causes intracranial pressure (pressure within the brain) which in turn leads to pressure within the ears. The next is breath holding, which some swear gives them an extra boost in weight lifting by solidifying the core and supporting the spine. However what happens when you hold your breath? More pressure in the inner ear.

The pressure in the inner ear can lead to changes in the hearing during or after intense exercise as a result of a perilymphatic fistula, or PLF, which occurs unexpectedly and which most people aren’t aware of right away. Simply put, a PLF is a small tear or defect in the thin membrane between the inner ear and the middle ear. The tear itself can be caused by the pressure in the inner ear due to straining; hearing changes occur when the strain of subsequent workouts causes fluid from the inner ear to leak through the tear and into the middle ear.

It’s not just CrossFit

CrossFit isn’t the only culprit, certainly. Though devotees of CrossFit in particular, due to the culture in which participants are encouraged to strain themselves to the absolute limits, need to be mindful of the risks to their hearing, other forms of exercise can cause strain as well. Even running or intense yoga poses can cause changes in hearing. And any exercise in a gym setting can bring the risk of hearing loss. The crashing weights and loud music which have become the norm in gyms everywhere can lead to irreversible noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus.

“I never actually took a sound level meter to the smashing of weights in a weight room, but it is likely that even short durations of loud intense weights dropping, can have the same potential damage to hearing as a shotgun blast or an air bag deploying,” said Rachel Raphael, M.A., CCC-A, an audiologist with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and a certified group fitness instructor. “If in fact, the smashing weights are in this range for volume, it wouldn’t take much for the person at close range to suffer permanent damage, in the way of high frequency sensorineural hearing loss and/or tinnitus as a symptom secondary to the damage in the cochlea.”

Dos and don’ts for healthy hearing during exercise

No matter what form of exercise you choose, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure you are taking care of your hearing while working out.

·Do: Get a hearing check immediately if you experience any change in hearing during or after exercise.

·Do: Drop your weight down to reduce strain. Reducing the strain will reduce the intracranial pressure, and possibly prevent a PLF from occurring.

·Do: If you are noticing hearing problems during or after exercise, experiment to find the level of exercise at which you are no longer experiencing changes to your hearing.

·Do: Protect your hearing in the gym. Wear earplugs to safeguard against loud music, or keep headphones at a reasonable volume to avoid long term damage in the form of noise-induced hearing loss.

·Do: As you age, do less straining during exercise, especially in the form of heavy lifting.

·Don’t: Hold your breath to get that extra boost of strength, as holding your breath increases the pressure within the ears.

·Don’t: Strain during weight lifting.

·Don’t: Participate in sports which can result in blows to the head, such as boxing or wrestling, if you are experiencing changes in your hearing.

·Don’t: Bang the weights when weight lifting. That sudden noise can reach a level as high as 140 decibels, which is like being exposed to a gunshot or explosion.

·Don’t: Ignore symptoms, thinking they will just go away.

When to seek help

What should you look for? Symptoms such as fullness in the ears, muffled hearing or dizziness after intense exercise are definitely not normal, and should be checked out by a medical professional. So go ahead and make 2016 the year for a healthy body; just make sure to keep your hearing healthy at the same time.


Back To School – Hearing Loss and Its Implications for Learning and Communication

Hearing Loss and Its Implications for Learning and Communication

Back To School – Hearing Loss and Its Implications for Learning and Communication

Poor hearing is a serious problem for children. It affects their ability to learn to speak, read and be educated.

Hearing Loss and Children: The Facts and Why They Are Important!

About one in every 1000 children is born with a significant hearing problem. About another one in 500 will develop such problems in childhood.

There are differing degrees of hearing loss, referred to as mild, moderate, severe and profound.

Communication development and behavioural skills are influenced by a child’s ability to hear. When hearing loss goes undetected or is detected late (after 6 months of age), language and speech development can be delayed. This delay can affect a child’s social interactions, emotional development and academic performance. Recent research indicates that children whose hearing loss is identified and intervention is begun within the first six months of life have higher language levels than children identified after six months of age. Also children with normal cognitive status have normal language development when their hearing loss is identified by six months of age, and children with early-identified hearing loss have significantly higher personal-social development than children identified later. Research has also found that a child’s auditory skill performance is significantly related to age of intervention. Additionally, lower rates of stress, depression and conflict among parents and faster resolution of grief related to the identification of hearing loss have been linked to early detection of and intervention for children with hearing loss.

What Are the Types of Hearing Loss?

  • Conductive – hearing loss resulting from disorders of the outer and/or middle ear (e.g., resulting from ear infections, abnormal ear structures)

? Sensorineural – hearing loss resulting from disorders of the inner ear or the 8th cranial nerve that carries the auditory signals to the brain (e.g., resulting from meningitis, noise exposure, problems at birth)

? Mixed – a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss

? Central – results from disorders of the central auditory nervous system (e.g., central auditory processing disorders)

How Does Hearing Loss Affect Children?

Conductive Hearing Loss

Audiological Implications

? Hearing loss may be bilateral (both ears) or unilateral (one ear)

? Hearing loss may be fluctuating, permanent, or temporary

? Children may have difficulty

• With auditory reception and consistently organizing auditory information

• Understanding speech

• Understanding in adverse listening conditions

• Localizing sounds and understanding speech in the presence of competing noise (unilateral hearing loss)

• Loss of binaural listening advantage (unilateral hearing loss)

? Medical consultation and/or monitoring may be indicated

? The use of personal and/or group amplification and/or hearing assistive technology should be considered if hearing loss cannot be resolved through medical treatment

Communication Implications

? Children may have

• Difficulty forming linguistic categories (plurals, tenses)

• Difficulty differentiating words and sounds

• Receptive and/or expressive language delay

• Problems with articulation

Academic Implications

? Children may have

• Lower scores on achievement and verbal IQ tests

• Poor reading and spelling performance

• Greater need for enrolment in special education or support classes

• Lower performance on measures of social maturity

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Audiological Implications

? Hearing loss may be bilateral or unilateral

? Children can exhibit

• Difficulty understanding speech and with auditory discrimination

• Significant problems listening and understanding in noisy and reverberant environments

• Difficulty localizing sounds and understanding speech in the presence of competing noise (unilateral hearing loss)

• Loss of binaural listening advantage (unilateral hearing loss)

? Use of personal and/or group amplification and/or hearing assistive technology should be considered

Communication Implications

? Children typically exhibit delays and/or difficulty with

• Tasks involving language concepts

• Auditory attention and memory, and comprehension

• Receptive and expressive language

• Syntax, semantics, and vocabulary development

• Speech perception and production

Academic Implications

? Children typically exhibit

• Lags and deficits in academic achievement, including language arts, vocabulary development, reading, spelling, arithmetic, and problem-solving

• Verbally based learning difficulties

• Progressive educational delays

? In addition, children with sensorineural hearing loss may have

• High rates of grade repetition and academic failure

• Self-described feelings of isolation, exclusion, embarrassment, annoyance, confusion, and helplessness

• Less independence in the classroom

• Lags in psychosocial development

? Increased need for special education and/or classroom supports

Mixed Hearing Loss Implications

? Hearing loss may be bilateral or unilateral, with various components of both sensorineural and conductive hearing losses.

? As with conductive and sensorineural hearing losses, a variety of audiological interventions and referrals may be indicated.

? Children can exhibit some or all of the audiological, communication, and academic implications of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder Implications

? Hearing sensitivity is typically normal but a hearing loss could be present.

? Children may

• Behave as if they have hearing loss

• Score lower on measures of verbal IQ than on measures of performance

• Require more help with organization in the classroom

• Have difficulty following multiple step directions

• Refuse to participate in class discussions or respond inappropriately

• Act withdrawn or sullen

• Have a history of chronic ear infections or other otologic and/or neurologic problems

• Have poor singing and music skills

• Have deficiencies in fine and/or gross motor skills

Is Your Child at Risk for Hearing Loss?

Behaviours of Children at Risk for Hearing Loss

? Do not startle to loud sounds during infancy

? Do not turn in the direction of sounds after 7 months of age

? Have a history of 3 or more ear infections in one year

? Often misunderstand what is said

? Constantly request that information be repeated

? Frequently say “huh” or “what”

? Have difficulty following verbal instructions

? Give inconsistent responses to auditory stimuli

? Turn up the volume of the television, radio or stereo

? Give slow or delayed response to spoken directions or requests

? Have poor auditory attention

? Have poor auditory memory (span and sequence)

? Are easily distracted

? Have difficulty listening or paying attention in the presence of background noise

? Have delayed receptive and expressive language

? Have difficulty with phonics and speech sound discrimination

? Learn slowly through the auditory channel

? Have reading, spelling and other academic problems

? Exhibit behaviour problems

Children with hearing loss may exhibit some, many, or none of these behaviours, and the behaviours may be different at each age level. It is often difficult to determine if a child has a hearing loss or is exhibiting certain behaviours based on age and/or temperament. Hearing loss in newborns and infants is not readily detectable by routine clinical procedures such as behavioural observation. Children of all ages, even newborns, can have their hearing tested.

If your child fails a hearing screening or if your child’s response to sound seems different or inconsistent, you should have your child’s hearing evaluated by a certified audiologist.

What Can an Audiologist Do for My Child?

An audiologist evaluating a child typically uses certain basic procedures to determine if the child has a hearing loss and, if so, the type and degree of the loss. These procedures may include a pure tone hearing test, speech audiometry, and tests of middle ear function. Depending on the age or level of cooperation of the child, specialized testing (e.g., auditory evoked potentials, otoacoustic emissions) may be required. Audiologists provide

? audiological, central auditory, and hearing aid evaluations

? audio logic intervention (e.g., hearing aids, assistive technology, speech reading, auditory training).

? hearing loss prevention and hearing conservation services

? case management services and/or expert representation on individual family service plan and individualized education plan

? information and recommendations related to communication options

? referrals for medical, educational, psychosocial, and speech-language pathology intervention services.

Contact Hearing and Audiology ….the best place to Get Help and Advice!

Hearing And Audiology is one of Perth’s most established and prominent independent audiological practices with room in Subiaco, Duncraig & Geraldton.


Have a Great Long Weekend!


Have a Great Long Weekend!Better Hearing Makes for Happier Holidays!

5 Ways Addressing Hearing Loss Can Make for Happier Long Week Ends!

Addressing hearing loss really can add to quality of life—during holidays and year round. Here’s what getting a hearing test and using our professionally fitted hearing aids may do for you:

1. Strengthen ties with family and friends. Healthy relationships rest largely on good communication. In one BHI study, more than half the respondents said using hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social lives, and their ability to join in groups. Many even saw improvements in their romance.

2. Raise your spirits. People with untreated hearing loss often feel angry, frustrated, anxious, isolated, and depressed. But research shows that when they use hearing aids, many become more socially engaged, feel a greater sense of safety and independence, and see a general improvement in their overall quality of life.

3. Lead you to feel better about yourself. An important perk of using hearing aids can be enhanced emotional well-being. Research shows that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids, many feel more in control of their lives and less self-critical. One BHI study found that the majority of people with mild and severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and life overall as a result of using hearing aids.

4. Keep your mind sharp. Studies out of Johns Hopkins linked hearing loss with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults and found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time. BHI studies found that many people with hearing loss report improvements in their cognitive skills with the use of hearing aids.

5. Unleash your earning potential. Hearing your best at work helps you do your best. One study found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. And people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be employed than their peers who don’t.

For more information:


P: (08) 9388 8003

E: info@hearingwa.com.au

Have a Great Long Weekend