Unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in one ear)

Hearing loss in one ear

What is unilateral hearing loss?

Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) means that you experience a loss of hearing in the right ear, or the left ear, but not both. In contrast, bilateral hearing loss is when hearing loss affects both ears.

Unilateral hearing loss, sometimes called single-sided deafness (SSD) or deafness in one ear, affects millions of people all around the world.

Should you have a hearing test?

Illustration shows unilateral hearing loss
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Book a free test for unilateral hearing loss

Book a free hearing test to find out if you have unilateral hearing loss (or any other type of hearing loss). We can suggest treatment options and help you understand your condition better.
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Symptoms of unilateral hearing loss

Image shows a mother struggling to hear her daughter
Unable to follow conversations with the affected ear
Image shows a woman struggling to hear conversation in a restaurant due to age related hearing loss
Difficulty to understand speech and conversations when there's background noise
Image shows a man searching for the source of a sound he can hear outside
Trouble identifying which direction sounds are coming from
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Causes of hearing loss in one ear

There are a number of recognised causes of unilateral hearing loss, including:

  • Mastoiditis
  • Mumps
  • Waardenburg syndrome
  • Ménière's disease
  • Meningitis
  • Microtia
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Measles
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Physical trauma

Age-related hearing loss (Presbycusis) 

Image shows an audiologist talking to a customer about hearing loss

Treatment for hearing loss in one ear

There are many effective treatment options for unilateral hearing loss available, although the results of treatment depend on a broad range of factors and circumstances.

Typical treatments include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Bone anchored hearing systems
  • Cochlear implants

Book a free hearing test to learn about your hearing needs and to talk about potential treatment options with a hearing care expert.

Book an appointment Hearing loss treatment

Conductive vs. sensorineural unilateral hearing loss

Unilateral conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sounds can't pass freely through the eardrum or past the tiny bones, known as ossicles, in the middle ear. This is due to a breakdown in the effectiveness of sound waves being sent from the outer ear.
Conductive hearing loss

Unilateral sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, occurs when there is damage to the hair cells in the cochlea (found in the inner ear) or to the nerve pathways which lead from the inner ear to the brain. A person may also suffer from mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss

Hidden Hearing audiologist Jen Canham
Jennie Canham, Hearing Aid Audiologist and Ceruminologist

Jennie Canham qualified in Audiology in 2003 and has been working in the private sector for over 19 years. She specialises in hearing aid rehabilitation, tinnitus therapy and is also fully qualified in both water irrigation and micro-suction. Jennie is also qualified in British Sign Language. Jennie works in Hidden Hearing’s Leigh-on-Sea hearing centre.