Thursday, May 5, 2011

Unilateral Hearing Loss

My right hearing aid is acting up today. It will start up normally, but if it moves around in my ear at all, or if I try to adjust it, it turns off. I think it may be just moisture in the aid - the temperature has definitely been rising around here and I've been outside (and sweating) more often. My aids go in a Dry 'n Store every night, but I will be going to the audiologist to see if they can dry it out and clean it more fully. They always do a good job. Hopefully, that's the only issue.

So, right now, I'm not wearing my right hearing aid - it going on and off was more annoying than just taking it out. My right ear is my "bad" ear (see my audiogram here), and I can definitely feel a difference with it out but my left aid still on. Everything feels sort of off-balance and strange.

I was curious how many people deal with one good ear and one deaf ear every day, what is known as unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in both ears is bilateral - makes sense) or single sided deafness. ASHA estimates that 391,000 elementary-school aged students in the US have unilateral hearing loss, but I can't find the statistic on people in general, or adults. I think a lot of people tend to assume that if someone has a hearing loss it would be in both ears. Anybody have a better/more useful statistic about unilateral hearing loss, or any stories they want to share?

26 comments:

  1. if your right hearing aid's acting up, you've could brought that up to audi and sent it away for reapairs and give you a loaner.

    for me, I wear my backup hearing aids if my currents one are in repair.

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  2. Hi Emma, thanks for the comment. I did bring it to the audiologist today and had them look at it. Sending it away wasn't necessary, they have the equipment to do many repairs there. :)

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  3. LOL that's great that they have stuff there instead of sending it away!!!!!!

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  4. Actually my wife's audiologist wouldn't offer her a loaner. Her hearing aids got sent off to repairs 3 times each time for nearly two weeks. She begged them for a loaner since she needs to hear for work since she works retail. They told her that they don't have loaners. She asked them if she could take their eyeglasses away for two weeks and see how that goes. I don't think they got the point.

    Good news is we still had her analog hearing aids standing by, however, since she started using them she had decided to start using them instead of her digital hearing aids since the analogs just don't act up.

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  5. It is really great that you share for us such useful stuff.first thing you will realize about your digital hearing aids is that they are smart devices which means they can digitally process sound which allows them to distinguish between noise and voices.Thanks!

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  6. This is not a thread, but a new comment and I hope someone can give me more insight into alternatives. My name is Steve, I am 51 and am unilaterally deaf (completely deaf in my left ear where a hearing aid is of no use whatsoever). I am a Disabled Navy Veteran. Not just that, but I have been diagnosed with ADHD/Bipolar. Keeping a job has been a major challenge, and my poor wife is having to suffer the consequences of my lack of being able to keep a job for any length of time since my 100% deafness in 2007. Can someone out there relate to what I am going through? I was hired as a Manager Trainee for Waffle House. They know of my deafness and the difficulties resulting. Today I was sent home and even told by an associate that I should look for another job. I try my best to hear what is being said with all the surrounding noise, but focus takes time, and time is minimal in my job atmosphere. Not just that, my ADHD is not being treated with the right medication, but the doctor believes it may be Bipolar instead. HELP!

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  7. Our one year old daugther was just diagnosed with this...her right ear is deaf and her left ear is 100% normal. We cannot find anyone else who has unilateral loss.

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    1. I'm deaf in precisely that same way - right ear gone, left ear perfectly fine.

      There will be issues, but those who know and love her will compensate for them. The circumstances change as per background noise. But people can know me for years without even realising that I am unilaterally deaf, just because they haven't been in a position where their voices have merged into the rest of the chatter.

      The main thing that I'll say is not to worry about it. She will never know what stereo hearing is, so she won't miss it. How I hear, and how she hears, is normal to us. Frankly I'd be quite scared if I did have to hear all that.

      I lead a very full life and I've had many good jobs in my work history. SSD isn't a disability so much has having the ability to have a good night's sleep, because you have perfect peace and quiet!

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  9. I have a profound unilateral hearing loss in my left ear - I was born with it, and I'm now in high school. Although there are times I have trouble hearing (conversations at the mall, sitting on the wrong side of someone, hearing the teacher when the air conditioner turns on...), I'm pretty normal; I'm a violinist, and I'm going to play in Carnegie Hall in January! I know 2 other girls with UHL. One grew up oral, like me; the other grew up signing.

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  10. I really appreciate your post and you explain each point very well. A unilateral hearing loss can directly affect the life of someone who has to live with it. While some people will benefit from using a hearing aid, this is not always true when the hearing loss is severe. Nevertheless, most audiologists will still recommend the use of certain types of hearing aid as a form of treatment. Thanks for sharing this information. And I’ll love to read your next post too.
    hearing test

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  11. Hi all, this comment is especially for jenny. I have been profoundly deaf in one ear at least since I was 5 years old, probably longer. My parents were very worried that I would have a terrible time getting along socially, etc, but for the most part I am able to act like a fully hearing person. I, too, played violin and had a lot of fun with different orchestras, etc. (Being deaf in one ear doesn't change whether or not you are musical in the other! Though ensemble playing can sometimes get a little tricky.) Especially in school I found it pretty easy to use tricks to make up for my deafness, such as always sitting towards the front of the classroom, and with my good ear toward the teacher. Interestingly, I didn't realize until I was about 12 that "normal" people are able to localize sound just with their ears and without looking! I was famous for never looking in the right direction if someone called my name from a distance... I would sort of start spinning in order to try and locate the sound. As I got older I did more frequently end up in frustrating social situations (at bars, restaurants, parties) where I didn't have control over the noise level and wasn't able to position myself in such a way that I could hear people and talk to them. And there have been a couple of situations here and there where someone thought I was being incredibly rude to them because I didn't notice them when they approached me from my deaf side. But these are small things that can be overcome, avoided, and explained.
    I'm now in medical school, and while all my friends know I'm deaf in one ear (it explains why I always move to the same side when we are talking, etc), I'm mostly able to perform med student duties without having to draw attention to my deafness. Overall, however, I have learned that it helps to let people know in advance - but that I also can never expect people to quite understand when my disability kicks in. In a quiet room you can stand on my deaf side, and I'll still hear you. Meanwhile, if there's a lot of background noise, you might even be on my hearing side, but I still can't hear you properly because I don't have the ability to filter out sound. And I will always use my deafness to explain why I speak so loudly... (I've been told many, many times that my normal speaking voice is set a few notches louder than necessary...) A sidenote: at the moment I think I'm pretty lucky to live in the US, since Americans do, in fact, tend to be pretty loud... I've spent time in other countries where my hearing problems were much aggravated simply because people's polite speaking voices were a lot quieter, even when there was background noise.

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  12. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were !! Hope it helps. http://deaf.headplug.com

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  13. My daughter is just over 1 and was diagnosed with moderate UHL since birth. It was an absolute shock to both of us but we very quickly realised that it wasnt about us. She's so far been reaching her milestones but I'm getting nervous with her next one.....speaking. She makes all the sounds and noices, and she's started following instructions! That's a huge relief to know that she can hear us and understand us!! She doesnt wear a hearing aid since she's been doing well however her next test is Feb and when this time comes i'm so nervous. Its so nice to read of other people with UHL doing well. :)

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  14. Hi Y'all -- come along down to Ol' Jim's western style unilateral hearing loss website --it's WILD! :-)) http://deaf.headplug.com

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  15. Hello, I am 26 years old and I am from India. I discovered that I have UHL around the age of 12. I don't know the exact cause but most likely it happened at a young age due to septicemia or repeated fevers that I used to have. Most of my experiences are very similar to what has been described above -- not able to hear from deaf side in noisy places, talking loudly, spinning around to find where the voice is coming from.

    Although I have profound hearing loss, not many people faced any problem communicating with me. Only a handful thought I have some kind of hearing problem.

    I am a software engineer and most of the time I am in quiet surroundings where I can pickup sounds coming from my left (deaf) side.

    I have one doubt though -- My audiogram shows losses >= 100dB, but I can hear a song with high volume with cellphone ear plug put in my deaf ear and closing my working ear tightly. I can pick-up the voices quite well. So, where is the mismatch? Has anybody had similar experience? S

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  16. Online hearing test
    The best is that you can consult your nearest audiologist and can have a checkup, else if that is at much distant, then you can also have online hearing test.

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  17. Hi. I just recently had profound hearing loss in my right ear, due to complications with brain surgery. It's been 6 months and I'm beginning to adapt better every day. I have found that it doesn't affect me all the time, just when it's really loud or someone tries to talk in my bad side. My situation is bad enough that hearing aids won't help at all. I tried the cros device from phonak and honestly found it very disorienting and weird. I am a working actor and I am doing just fine:)

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  18. Hi.I'm 22 years old. I'm recovering from an accident I had a little over two months ago. It left me with a shattered shoulder and two fractures in my skull. I was just told three days ago that from the temporal bone fracture, I've lost hearing for good in my left ear. I have zero percent clarity and 90% volume ( Which was explained to me that that score is opposite from getting a 90% on a test in school, that its more like bombing the test with a 10%). This made me feel a tight knot in my stomach when i was receiving this news, I thought I was about to pass out from how hot i started feeling all over. This whole recovery process, I never once thought that my ear would lose hearing. I was focused on physical therapy with my shoulder and all the tests and scans to make sure my brain was properly functioning ( My accident was an ATV one, I got flung off of it at high speed and smashed my head against rocks ) I was expecting some sort of good news from the audio doctor. Something along the lines of that my ear was still messed up but would be fine in two months or so. And in a hopeful way, I suppose I'm still waiting to wake up one day and for the ringing to be gone and the hearing back 100% percent. Although, after a follow up with an extremely rude doctor, who told me that me regaining my hearing was as slim of a chance as somebody in a coma waking up, then proceeded to tell me I would get over it and that he has plently of patients who have been deaf in one ear all their life and they handle about it just fine. I've never wanted to wrap my hands around somebodys throat and squeeze as hard as I can, although he probably would have had a chance to escape and live seeing how I'm only physically capable of doing that with one good one. Maybe a chokehold.... Ok, now im getting off track here. The fact is I was not born with this and feel like my whole entire world has been flipped around on me. I'm a waitress, I need to be able to hear people when they're ordering food. I also work with kids every summer at a camp and am looking to get a full time job working with little ones, I need to be able to hear where they are and if somethings wrong, which direction the screaming or cries are coming from. Will i ever be hired to do work with little ones or am I a just big walking threat to their safety? Along with my concerns of deciding what I want to do with my work life now, I've also socially isolated myself from my large groups of friends. I've declined the invites to parties at houses and gatherings at bars simply because I can't make out what people are saying and if there's too many people talking at once over loud backround noise, the ringing in my ear grows louder and a terrible headache forms. I'm naturally what you would call a "social butterfly", I love being in part with conversations and going out to bars to play pool and darts and dancing to loud music. Now, I've locked myself in my room with my video games from fear of messing up the hearing on my right side and going completely deaf. I never know which direction sounds are coming from and am constantly going "what?", ::turn to a friend:: "what'd he say?". I feel embarrassed about asking someone to repeat themselves and then explaining to them that I'm not ignoring them and being rude but have lost hearing in my left. I've had people from across the room think that I was staring them down and trying to start a fight because when someone next to me is speaking, I lean in more with my right and look directly in front of me instead of at who is speaking to me ( Now I'm rude to both parties ). When I try to express my feelings to my boyfriend or friends, they tell me they understand and that I'll adjust to it, which I know they're 100% correct but then they also look at me like I'm just looking for a reason to complain, that since my right ear is fine that there should be no problem with going out and being around people.

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  19. (continuation) I feel as if people are looking at me as trying to gain attention as soon as I say I'm leaving because I have a headache. as though I'm "faking" it. I've had a major decrease in friends and a serious increase in how fast I get frustrated, irritated and "snappy". Which isn't like me at all, I'm normally an easy going, laugh it off and happy individual. I'm terrified that I've lost a major piece of my personality and of who I am. I see all these above stories of people getting along just fine with it and are happy normal human beings and I suppose this news is still brand new to me and I'm trying to accept it rather than dwell on it. I know that I will adjust to it, But I was just expecting to adjust to this sort of thing when I turned into an elder and not at the age of 22. I'm sorry that this has turned into a blog within a blog but this is the first place I've found with other people with the same problem. I'm just looking for some positives to outweigh the hand of negatives I was just dealt.

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  20. Hi Valerie,
    I too, am single-sded deaf. My deafness in my right ear is due to the surgery that was done in my brain to remove a brain tumor. In order to reach the tumor (that was located next to my brain stem) my right inner ear had to be removed.
    I'm 52 years old and have found my life has changed dramatically. I too, get nasty migraines after spending a long period in a noisy environment. I just returned to my teaching postion but am finding I can't handle the noise of the 32 kiddos in classroom. I feel like a wimp as I explain to others how intensly noise can impact me. The good news is that I can still go out dancing in bars and at concerts. And, outdoor live music is still something I can enjoy. Although, ringing in my ears usually kicks up for awhile.
    I have applied for disability from my 19 year teaching position. I have to recreate my life because so many pieces from my old life no longer work for me now. I can't ride my mtn bike because it jars my bain and causes headaches etc etc. However, I have to remind myself that I am lucky to be alive. My surgey was very risky and complicated. Being single-sided deafness is better than death. I can appreciate your frustration for having your world ripped apart at an early age. Life is not fair but you shall survive and design a differnt life for your self. Best wishes in your journey.

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  21. I'm a 52 year old male who has been profoundly deaf in my right ear since a baby. The effect it has had on my life is huge, being completely unable to determine the direction sounds are coming from and the inability to cancel unwanted sound renders me unable to communicate in noisy rooms. You can imaging how well that goes on dates! This also makes me intolerant of noise in general, so I've adapted by being a loner who keeps to myself. I can tolerate other people a few hours a day a few days a week, but that's about it. People think the biggest problem is the inability to hear on the one side, but that's easily compensated for in 95% of situations. No, the biggest problem is something biaural hearing people have no comprehension of at all, the inability to tell where sounds are coming from and the inability to ignore unwanted sounds. It's socially crippling (Especially for a man.) and makes it very tiring to be in crowded places.

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  22. Hello. I have severe hearing loss in my right ear. The fact that there is less than 1% of this country's population born with this condition explains why I have never been able to find anyone who could understand the challenges I've faced growing up. I am 35 now, but went through years of speech therapy and multiple surgeries in my head alone. The last surgery was when I was 16 when they attempted to fix my condition by detaching one of the 3 bones in my inner ear from the membrane attached to my spinal cord. The fact that it was attached to the spinal cord was the reason the doctor did not make the attempt; he just couldn't see it until he actually got in there. I can't say that I have any friends, except my wife. She has accepted my difficulties with identifying sounds properly without question, but like anyone else who grew up with 2 good ears, cannot understand what it is like. The best advantage is that I can usually ignore sounds while I'm sleeping by rolling my good ear into the pillow. I get along with just about anyone, but most people I spend time with are colleagues at work. I'm sure like most born with UHL, my condition has played a large part in defining my personality while my natural personality has defined how I deal with hearing-related challenges. I've had some pretty good success in identifying the source of sounds most times, but it takes a lot of extra energy and work on my part. If anyone wants to learn how to learn how to make good observations about any situation, take away their hearing for a while. Until age 8 or 9, I was not able to speak clearly; all the sounds I heard at a young age were the same as listening to background noise - even when someone spoke directly to me. My teachers in grade school always said my focus during lectures was impressive. This was not exactly because I was interested in learning that much; it was because the alternative was having another episode of humiliation because I didn't hear everything I needed to hear properly. The hardest situation for me is when I'm in a noisy room like a bar, a loud restaurant, or especially a concert. For this reason, I've never been to a concert except when I was in middle-school band, never been to a bar, usually request a table far away from the bar at TGIFs, and never been to anything like a dance. Most of these environments are too disorganized and present a high risk for more humiliation.

    For any parents with kids that have UHL, the key is to have patience, encourage your child (don't force), perseverance, more patience, and no special treatment. Teach your child how to adapt to the world because the world cannot adapt to your child's needs. Listening is more than hearing. It involves seeing, deducing, and a lot of mental processing. If I focus hard enough I can usually listen to one person while another is talking to me at the same time and then be able to respond to both in the same order much like having multiple shoppers in a checkout line.

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    1. Hi Tom,
      I know this is an old post so you may not see this, but if you do...from one person with UHL to another, PLEASE don't be so hard on yourself! It sounds like others may have really hurt you in the past by not understanding about your hearing, hence being worried about "humiliation". Humiliation and embarrassment are feelings that we ourselves chose to feel. There is no reason to feel humiliated because of your hearing. Denying yourself the opportunities to experience concerts, dances, etc. only victimizes yourself. I am an avid concert goer, and I love that they are so loud that you have a great excuse to tell someone "It's too loud, I can't hear ya!" haha Get out and enjoy your life - it's wonderful! Don't limit yourself. :-)

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  23. I am 39 yr old female, born with complete deafness in one ear (left). It hasn't really troubled me. I find I get a lot of wax build up (in my good right ear, very annoying!) and I had to make sure I sat near the front of the class in school. Don't even get me started on the game Chinese Whispers! Localising sounds are hard. Crossing a busy street is hazardous. Noisy restaurants and parties, can be hard to keep up with a conversation that's why I prefer a one-on-one conversation with someone.But unless I lose the hearing in my good ear, I'm fine with how things are now

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  24. Hi! I just came across this page. I'm a 45 year old female, and I've been profoundly deaf in my left ear since birth. It's funny, I never considered myself as having a "disability" or any different from the next person until I just recently started reading more about UHL. Maybe because my parents never treated me like I was "different?" I usually have to remind them! Now that I've started reading more about it, I'm learning so much about myself lol I never knew that my hearing is the reason I become irritable and exhausted when trying to socialize in crowds and noisy environments. I've learned to read lips in some sitations, and most people never realize I'm deaf in one ear until they try to whisper in my bad ear; when I have to explain why I would prefer to sit in a certain seat or location; or why keep ducking behind them to position them on my right side when walking. Riding in the car as a passenger is pretty annoying since the driver is on my bad side, and especially if the windows are down or radio on. It does take a lot of energy to be constantly focused in order to monitor for anyone who may be approaching or talking to you on the wrong side. I've had a few embarrassing moments when I'm relaxed or deep in thought, so I don't expect someone to talk to me on my bad side so they end up tapping me on the shoulder and giving me a weird look. I just thank them and go about my business. I do envy those who can listen to music using only one earphone and be able to hear others with the other ear. That would be awesome :-) Stereo earphones are useless and you miss half of the sound with UHL. Luckily some mp3 players allow you to switch to a mono setting.

    Parents - if your child has UHL, please be patient with them and put just as much energy and focus into helping them hear you as they must devote to hearing you. Be mindful of talking to them on their "right" side, and if they seem to withdraw in noisy social situations (birthday parties, etc.) let them. They can get overwhelmed very easily. Also, never ever EVER get frustrated with them because they didn't hear you or make them feel "different". You can't imagine how painful that is. xxoxo

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