Unilateral hearing loss, or single-sided deafness, is much more widespread than people realize, prominently in children. Because of this, the public sees hearing loss as being binary — either someone has normal hearing in both ears or reduced hearing on each side, but that ignores one particular form of hearing loss completely.
A 1998 study thought that approximately 400,000 children had a unilateral hearing loss due to trauma or disease in the moment. It’s safe to say this amount has increased in that last two decades.
What’s Single-Sided Hearing Loss and What Makes It?
As its name suggests, single-sided hearing loss indicates a reduction in hearing only in one ear.In extreme cases, deep deafness is potential.
Causes of unilateral hearing loss vary. It may be the result of injury, for example, someone standing next to a gun fire on the left might get moderate or profound hearing loss in that ear. A disease can lead to this issue, too, such as:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Waardenburg syndrome
Whatever the origin, a person with unilateral hearing needs to adapt to a different method of processing audio.
Management of the Sound
The mind utilizes the ears nearly like a compass. It defines the direction of sound based on which ear registers it first and in the maximum volume.
Together with the single-sided hearing loss, the noise is only going to come in one ear no matter what direction it comes from. In case you have hearing from the left ear, then your head will turn left to search for the noise even if the person speaking is on the right.
Think for a minute what that would be like. The sound would always enter one side regardless of where what direction it comes from. How would you understand where a person speaking to you is standing? Even if the hearing loss isn’t deep, sound management is catchy.
Honing in on Audio
The mind also uses the ears to filter out background sound. It informs one ear, the one nearest to the sound that you want to focus on, to listen for a voice. The other ear manages the background sounds. That is precisely why in a noisy restaurant, you can still focus on the conversation at the dining table.
When you don’t have that tool, the mind becomes confused. It’s unable to filter out background sounds like a fan running, so that’s all you hear.
The mind has a lot happening at any one time but having use of two ears allows it to multitask. That is the reason you can sit and examine your social media sites whilst watching TV or having a conversation. With just one working ear, the brain loses the ability to do one thing while listening. It must prioritize between what you see and what you hear, so you tend to lose out on the dialogue taking place without you while you browse your newsfeed.
The Head Shadow Impact
The mind shadow effect describes how certain sounds are unavailable to an individual having 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 trek.
If you are standing beside an individual with a high pitched voice, then you might not understand what they say unless you flip so the good ear is on their side. On the other hand, you may hear somebody having a deep voice just fine no matter what side they’re on because they produce longer sound waves which make it into either ear.
Individuals with just minor hearing loss in only one ear have a tendency to accommodate. They learn fast to turn their head a certain way to hear a friend speak, for instance. For people who struggle with single-sided hearing loss, a hearing aid might be work round that yields their lateral hearing.