Hearing loss in one ear

Sometimes hearing loss can occur in just one ear

Hearing loss doesn’t always happen to both ears at the same time. Sometimes hearing loss can occur in just one ear, while the other ear still functions normally.

What is hearing loss in one ear?

Hearing loss in one ear, or single sided deafness (SSD) is the loss of hearing in one ear only, with normal hearing in the other ear. Those affected by this condition may have extra difficulty understanding speech in crowded environments, tuning out background noise and locating the source of a sound. Cases of hearing loss in one ear can range from mild to severe.

Signs and symptoms

Some of the most common signs of hearing loss in one ear include:

  • Muffling of speech and sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings


There are many possible causes for hearing loss on one side, including:

  • Physical injury to one  ear
  • Exposure to loud noise on one side (such as an explosion or gunshot)
  • Blockage of the ear due to wax or a foreign body in the ear canal
  • A tumor on the auditory nerve which sends signals from the ear to the brain
  • Ear infection in one ear
  • Meniere’s disease, a medical condition which can affect hearing and balance

Treatment for hearing loss in one ear

If the hearing loss is caused by an ear infection or other temporary blockage (such as ear wax) this can usually be treated by your GP, or in the case of wax build up, an ear nurse.

For permanent single-sided hearing loss, there are specific products like the CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signals) system that can help reduce the impact of hearing loss on your life.

The CROS system looks like a pair of hearing aids and picks up sounds and voices from the ear with hearing loss and wirelessly sends them over to the ear with normal hearing.

A man and a woman at a Bay Audiology clinic

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At Bay Audiology, we suggest that you book an appointment at your local clinic to determine the level of loss in either side of your ears. Our expert clinicians can then suggest a solution that will suit your specific needs.

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