The Challenges of Living With Single-Sided Deafness

Half of woman hidden by darkness. Captures the feeling of single sided deafness

Single-sided deafness (SSD) refers to the condition where a person loses hearing in one ear but can still hear on the other side. It is also known as unilateral hearing loss, which is caused by several medical conditions.

Some of the causes of SSD are physical damage to the ear, head trauma, acoustic neuroma, Meniere’s disease, and circulatory system disorders. The causes can be a combination of several factors and may sometimes be difficult to pin down.

When you or someone you know suddenly experience a hearing loss, seek treatment as fast as possible, as it will increase your chances for a full recovery. When it cannot be treated, SSD is the result 15 percent of the time. It is often permanent, but there are times when devices worn on the functioning ear can help treat SSD. An audiologist can recommend a contralateral routing of sound or CROS system, a BiCROS, or a bone-anchored hearing system.

A CROS system is for someone who has near-total hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in another. A BiCROS is for those who have moderate to severe hearing loss in the functional ear. Then a bone-anchored hearing is for those who don’t find CROS hearing aids useful, and this requires surgical implantation.

A person who has single-sided deafness experiences many challenges:

1. Difficulty identifying the origin of sound

A person who has lost hearing in one ear can’t always pinpoint the origin of the sound. Usually, the brain can identify the source based on which ear hears the sound first, so it’s challenging to identify the direction of the sound when there’s only one functioning ear to listen.

2. Difficulty in hearing in noisy places

When you have an SSD, it can be difficult to focus on a single person’s voice in a noisy environment. This is because usually, the brain can filter out sounds that are not useful to you, and without hearing in one ear, it can be more challenging for the brain to perform this task.

3. Difficulty in telling the loudness of a sound

With both ears functioning, the brain can hear the sound more loudly than when only have heard in one ear. The nerves send signals to the brain based on two ears to process sounds.

4. Difficulty in multi-tasking

Without hearing in one ear, there is an increased cognitive load on the brain. This makes it hard for someone with SSD to multi-task. The brain takes longer to focus on a task when there is too much noise.


Single-sided deafness is often permanent and can present many challenges to people who suffer from this condition. Hearing devices can sometimes help treat SSD and make life easier.

If you’d like to check the conditions of your ears, come on down to Fraser Valley Beltone today!

We provide extensive & affordable hearing tests in Langley, BC. Get in touch today to book your appointment.


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