Single Sided Deafness Causes and Treatment
Single sided deafness or, unilateral deafness as it is also referred to, accounts for 60,000 new cases every year only in the United States. Unilateral hearing loss suddenly occurs in one ear only while the hearing in the other ear is perfectly normal. Single sided deafness has multiple causes in nature but very often the underlying condition remains unknown. Most often people start developing symptoms of hearing loss in one ear, ringing in the affected ear after a really bad case of viral or bacterial infection, head trauma or brain surgical interventions. The rarest causes of unilateral deafness are acoustic neuromas, tumors surrounding the acoustic nerve, or Meniere disease, an inner ear disorder.
Single sided deafness is a very challenging condition for many people as they can not distinguish the source of the coming sound and very often tend to turn around trying to locate where the sound is coming from. They also lose the stereo effect of the sound and can not appreciate their favorite musical piece due to not hearing some of the notes. In noisy room situations a person with unilateral deafness can not make out the speech of a person next to him because all sounds come in simultaneously in a single muffled way losing their intensity.
Until recently for people with single sided deafness there had been very little treatment options and they were forced to make a lot of work, lifestyle changes to compensate for their unfortunate condition. People with such condition tended to avoid noisy environments like large offices, busy streets, restaurants and bars due to their inability to comfortably hear because of the background noise. Regular and waterproof hearing aids that are used for people with other hearing problems like industrial deafness or other conditions were inappropriate for unilateral hearing loss.
Only recently FDA has approved the BAHA devices that stand for bone anchored hearing device to use for the treatment of single sided deafness. This device is implanted into the skull behind the deaf ear and conducts the sounds to the hearing ear neutralizing the head shadow effect when the intensity of the sound is lost.