(Plötzlicher) Hörverlust auf einem Ohr: Ursachen, Symptome, Behandlung

Sudden hearing loss in one ear

Suddenly hearing barely or not at all in one ear can be quite a scary moment. Immediately, horror scenarios pop into your head - but it's not always a permanent limitation or serious causes. The degree of unilateral hearing loss can, however, border on deafness or even reach the point of complete deafness. Therefore, such symptoms should definitely be taken seriously, but it is not advisable to panic. A visit to a specialist provides information about causes and shows treatment methods.

Single-sided hearing loss: causes and symptoms

Sudden hearing loss in one ear due to a hearing loss

If the hearing in one ear is suddenly impaired or lost, this may be an indication of a hearing loss, because it almost always occurs on one side. In this case, there are often additional symptoms such as a dull ache, tinnitus and dizziness. Why it occurs in the first place is not fully understood. Presumably, the onset is due to a circulatory disorder and is favored by various factors, including stress. As a consequence, the hair cells die or their functional capacity is reduced, resulting in the failure of stimulus conversion from mechanical to electrical stimuli. Consequently, hearing impairment develops.

Single-sided hearing loss caused by middle-ear-inflammation.

A unilateral hearing loss does not always mean a hearing loss. Likewise, it can be due to middle-ear-inflammation. In this case, additional symptoms in the form of ear pain, pressure sensation and ringing in the ears are typical. It is recommended that middle-ear-inflammation be treated professionally to avoid undesirable consequences of not being treated. Frequent or prolonged middle-ear-inflammation can cause permanent hearing loss.

Ear congestion as a trigger of unilateral hearing loss

When earwax clogs the ear canal, hearing can suffer. As a rule, a blockage is detected particularly quickly during a medical examination, as the outer ear canal is usually first examined in an otoscopy. By cleaning the ear, a blockage can be removed relatively easily. Consistently, hearing is usually regained as a result.

Short-term hearing loss in one ear due to a cold/corona

Classic symptoms of the common cold include swelling of the nasal mucous membranes. The swelling, in turn, impedes ventilation of the ear and, in some cases, leads to fluid accumulation in it. This can result in a feeling of pressure in the ear as well as decreased hearing. In most cases, the hearing loss disappears along with the rest of the cold symptoms.

Hearing problems are repeatedly reported in connection with corona, but it is a rather rare symptom for which few accurate data are available. It is reasonable to assume that the cold-like symptoms associated with corona infection can lead to hearing limitations similar to those of a common cold.

Hearing loss in one ear after a flight

Pressure on the ears while flying is a common problem, especially among children. In some cases, the pressure, which is associated with impaired hearing, persists after landing. How long it takes to master pressure relief and restore hearing is highly individual. Usually, simple pressure equalization tactics such as drinking or swallowing hard help. While flying, it is recommended to preventively chew gum and make sure to drink enough with vigorous swallowing. To some extent, unilateral hearing loss can be protracted, after several days of persistent problems, however, a doctor's visit should be considered.

Other reasons for sudden, unilateral hearing loss

  • Physical damage
  • Pressure on auditory nerve
  • Problem in the inner ear: e.g., infection
  • Diseases: e.g. measles, mumps, meningitis

Hearing loss in one ear: treatment

Unless the impairment is too severe, you should wait a few days and observe whether your ear recovers on its own. If it does not, or if the symptoms worsen, a visit to an otolaryngologist is recommended. If he or she detects a hearing loss or a middle ear infection, medical treatment is usually promising. Ear congestion can also be relieved relatively easily with a cleanup, while cold-related hearing loss is often alleviated with decongestants.

If irreparable or particularly severe damage is present, hearing aids can provide relief. In particular, CROS devices, which amplify the sound of the affected ear and transfer it to the healthy ear, are an option here. As a result, you can once again fully perceive your sonic environment.