How do I know if I have hearing loss in one ear?

As someone with hearing loss in one ear, you may struggle to hear in busier and more crowded environments. It can be difficult to filter out specific sounds from the surrounding background noise or locate where a sound is coming from. People who experience hearing loss in one ear will generally try and sit or stand so that their good ear is towards the room or conversation.

At My Hearing, we can partner you with a highly experienced hearing aid dispenser to find you the right treatment. We want to help you stay connected and join in the conversation.

Causes Of Hearing Loss In One Ear

information and advice

The causes of unilateral hearing loss are very similar to those that cause problems in both ears. Overall, hearing loss in one ear is more likely to be caused by an infection or a traumatic incident than more natural causes like age or long-term noise exposure:


Our hearing naturally deteriorates over time. The hair cells of the inner ear become damaged or die, ear wax hardens and other medical conditions begin to have an impact. Sometimes, one ear can be affected a lot more than the other.


Whilst earwax is vital for keeping your ears clean, too much of it can cause a blockage. This tends to happen as it hardens and dries out, expands in water or gets caught in a narrow ear canal. When this happens, sounds struggle to reach the eardrum and you can experience hearing loss in one ear.

Ménière’s Disease

This inner ear disorder generally only affects one ear. As well as causing hearing loss, Ménière’s disease can also lead to severe dizziness (vertigo) and a constant noise that only you can hear (Tinnitus).

Perforated Eardrum

A ruptured eardrum is simply a small hole or tear in the eardrum. It is generally the result of a build up of pressure which can be caused by infection, air travel, loud sudden noise or direct trauma. Typically, when sound reaches the eardrum it causes the tissue to vibrate and so transfer the sound from the middle ear to the inner ear. A perforated eardrum can’t vibrate properly or act as an effective barrier to protect the inner ear. That’s when you can get hearing loss in one ear.


Ear infections are often confined to one ear and can result in fluid build up. This fluid acts as a blockage within the ear and can prevent the sensitive hair cells from vibrating freely. Infections likes otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) can cause inflammation of the ear canal, preventing sound from travelling freely.

Ototoxic Medication

Some antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in one ear, specifically the inner section. Your doctor will discuss this with you before prescribing any medication and they will have carefully weighed up the risks. It generally becomes an issue when large doses are required.

Hearing Loss In One Ear Treatment

Hearing loss in one ear treatment is essentially the same as for both ears. The type of treatment we recommend will depend on the cause of your hearing loss and your lifestyle. Whether it’s a hearing aid, course of medication or surgery, we will clearly explain our thinking and tell you what to expect.     

We believe that nobody should miss a thing and so will work with you to find the right treatment and advice for your hearing loss.

Hearing Loss In One Ear Treatment 1: Hearing Aid

One of the most common treatments for hearing loss, a hearing aid works by amplifying the sounds you struggle to hear. Normally, the hair cells of your inner ear vibrate as any sound waves reach them, before transforming the vibrations into electrical signals that the brain can understand. When your hair cells are damaged, the sound needs to be louder to have the same effect. That’s where a hearing aid comes in.

Available in a wide range of sizes and styles, hearing aids are only getting more powerful, reliable and discreet. Whether you choose a traditional behind-the-ear model or one that sits further in the ear, our hearing aid dispenser will personalise the settings to your specific requirements. You can even buy accessories that help you communicate over the phone or watch your favourite TV show.

In more severe cases, a cochlear implant may be more suitable than a hearing aid. This surgically-implanted device reduces the need for hair cells by digitally converting external sound directly into the all important electrical signals.

Hearing Loss In One Ear Treatment 2: Medication

If your one-sided hearing loss was caused by an infection, medication can help clear up the problem and restore your hearing. Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight and infection and steroids to lower swelling or inflammation. Depending on the type of infection, you may require both. For example, ‘Swimmer’s Ear’ (otitis externa) is normally treated with ear drops. These ear drops contain antibiotics to fight the initial infection and steroids to counteract the inflammation of the ear canal.

Of course, some cases of hearing loss are a side effect of medication use. In that instance, your doctor would talk to you about your prescription and whether or not its benefits outweigh the partial loss of hearing. A good example of this would be chemotherapy drugs.

Hearing Loss In One Ear Treatment 3: Earwax Removal

Hearing loss in one ear caused by an excessive build-up of earwax is generally easy to treat. If you want to remove the earwax yourself at home, we would recommend a couple of drops of olive or almond oil every day before bed. The oil will soften the earwax, allowing it to slide out when you lie on your side for an extended period of time. If this technique doesn’t work, a qualified professional will be able to offer you either an irrigation or microsuction procedure. The former uses water to flush out the ear wax whilst with the latter it is sucked out.

We’re Here For You

If you are searching for guidance and further information on hearing loss in one treatment, get in touch today. We partner with highly experienced hearing aid dispensers who can provide you with expert advice on your diagnosis, ensuring that you receive the most suitable treatment.

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