This topic provides information about single-sided deafness. Be sure to check our general page on all types of hearing loss if you are looking for more information.
What is single-sided deafness?
Single-sided deafness (SSD) is a term used by hearing healthcare professionals to describe a hearing loss in one ear that is “unusable” or “unaidable”, with normal hearing or “aidable” hearing loss in the other ear.
Unusable or unaidable hearing loss means that the hearing loss and/or speech discrimination ability in the poor ear is too poor to benefit from the use of traditional amplification (hearing aid). The hearing loss is severe to profound, making that ear essentially deaf.
The normal ear or better ear is still “aidable” meaning that the hearing can be managed with the use of a traditional hearing aid.
What causes single-sided deafness?
Single-sided deafness can be congenital, sudden, or progressive.
The most common causes of single-sided deafness include:
- Physical trauma to the ear or head
- Congenital unilateral hearing loss
- Disease such as meningitis or measles
- Acoustic neuroma
- Inner ear infections (Labyrinthitis)
- Severe Meniere’s Disease
- Sudden deafness of unknown reasons (idiopathic hearing loss)
In most cases, the hearing loss is permanent.
What are the symptoms of single-sided deafness?
Some of the symptoms of single-sided deafness include:
- Inability to hear or understand on the telephone in the affected ear
- Difficulty hearing from the affected side or in noisy environments
- Tinnitus in the affected ear
- Difficulty localizing where sounds are coming from
How is it diagnosed?
Single-sided deafness can be diagnosed by undergoing a hearing evaluation by an Audiologist. During the audiologic hearing evaluation, your hearing will be evaluated in each ear, as well as your speech discrimination ability. If one ear is considered to be “unaidable” due to a significant loss and/or poor discrimination score, it can be classified as single-sided deafness.
How is it treated?
Treatment will be dependant on the cause of the single-sided deafness. If no medical or surgical intervention options are appropriate, there are several rehabilitation options available to manage single-sided deafness. These options can be discussed with you by an Audiologist and may include a CROS or BICROS hearing aid, bone-anchored hearing aid, SoundBite hearing system, or a cochlear implant.