Help! I Cannot Hear in One Ear. What’s the Cause?

The human ear has such delicate construction it’s a miracle we notice any minor damage. Yet, some of the damage is so subtle we can go for years without seeing our hearing deteriorate.

If you’re noticing hearing disruptions in one ear first, it’s important you get to the root of the issue. It could be something benign, but the issue may be a symptom of something more significant.

Check out this guide to help you find the possible causes of why you cannot hear and what you should do next.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is a type of hearing impairment caused by damage to the inner ear. This is also caused due to damage in the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. It is characterized as a sudden reduction or complete loss of hearing in one ear.

Common causes include aging, exposure to loud sounds, ototoxic drugs, and head trauma. Other causes can be genetic, autoimmune diseases, viral infections, exposure to chemical toxins, and severe reactions to certain medications.

Sensorineural hearing loss symptoms are permanent and are the most common form of hearing loss. It is not reversible, but treatment options may include hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices, and other rehabilitation therapies.

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is caused by an obstruction or disruption in the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss is commonly caused by a buildup of earwax, fluid in the middle ear, an abnormal formation of the ear, or an infection in the outer ear.

Symptoms may include complete or partial hearing loss in one ear or a feeling of fullness in the ear. Other symptoms may include ear discharge and sudden onset of hearing loss.

Treatment for conductive hearing loss typically involves medication, surgery, or a hearing aid that helps amplify sound. If one ear is unable to hear, it is important to consult with an audiologist to determine the underlying cause.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss is where you may experience hearing loss in one ear or in both ears. This hearing loss can be caused by many factors, including age-related hearing loss, hearing loss due to medications, earwax blockage, a punctured eardrum, acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, head trauma, or malformation of the ear.

While some of these causes may be easy to treat, others may require specialized ear treatments or devices to help you hear normally again. Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, your doctor will determine the best treatment options to help you regain your hearing.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is usually caused by a problem in the ear itself, like infection or trauma. Certain medications and environmental exposures can cause hearing loss, while hereditary hearing loss can also be a factor.

If left untreated, unilateral hearing loss can lead to communication difficulties and mental health issues. Here are 4 some of the common causes of hearing loss:

1. Loud Noise

Loud noise poses a major risk to hearing health, especially when exposed to it over extended or frequent periods. Loud noises can irritate the ear canal or damage the delicate workings of the inner ear, potentially leading to irreversible hearing loss or ringing in the ears.

Long-term exposure to loud noise, such as loud music, factory machinery, noisy environments, or even continuous city traffic, can cause one to lose the ability to hear in one ear. Common symptoms of this condition include a muffled sound in the ear, problems understanding conversations, and a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear. It is important to take good care of your hearing by avoiding sustained exposure to loud noises and always wearing protective headphones.

2. Earwax and Fluid Buildup

Earwax is the body’s natural way of cleaning the ears and contains dust, bacteria, and other foreign bodies. When wax accumulates, it causes a blockage that can prevent sound from reaching the eardrum completely. The buildup of fluid in the ear can also prevent sound from spreading properly.

Fluid buildup is caused by an infection that leads to an excessive accumulation of fluid in the middle ear. It can be a result of a cold, allergies, sinusitis, or a blockage of the Eustachian tube. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage.

3. Ruptured Eardrum

This condition occurs when a thin membrane of skin between the outer ear and the middle ear is damaged by infection, loud noise, foreign objects placed in the ear, or trauma to the ear. Signs and symptoms include a feeling of pressure in the ear, drainage from the ear, and severe pain. Without medical intervention to repair the ruptured eardrum, a person may experience hearing loss and dizziness.

Hearing aids, prescribed antibiotics, and home care such as warm compresses and ear drops may be recommended to reduce pain. In cases where hearing loss is severe, or treatment fails, surgery may be necessary to correct the issue.

4. Health Conditions

Medical conditions that could contribute to unilateral hearing loss include congenital disease, head and neck cancer, traumatic brain injury, acoustic neuroma, or an autoimmune disorder. Since the cause of unilateral hearing loss varies, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause and start treatment.

Treatment might include medications, hearing aids, assistive devices, or even surgery if needed. If you are experiencing hearing loss in one ear, make sure to get it evaluated as soon as possible.

Visit and browse the Beltone HearingCare website when you shop for hearing aids. They provide a variety of products and services you need for your hearing.

These Are the Possible Reasons You Cannot Hear

The causes of why you cannot hear in one ear could be physical damage, illness, or even genetics. If you feel like you are losing your hearing in one ear, it is important to book an appointment with an ear specialist as soon as possible. With the right treatment, you can restore your hearing and enjoy life’s everyday sounds again. So take action now and contact a hearing specialist today.

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