Cant Hear Out Of One Ear

Sometimes it just heals up on its own, but that depends on how it ruptured or why it ruptured.

Why I Can’t Hear Out of One Ear?

Causes of hearing loss commonly vary depending on age. Young people can experience hearing loss in one or both ears because of exposure to loud noise, ear wax or ear infections. Gradual aging causes hearing loss in older people. Taking a flight or getting a cold can cause your Eustachian tubes to get blocked, reducing hearing capacity. You can check out the following guide on how to safely unclog your ears.

Cant Hear Out Of One Ear

Why I Can’t Hear Out of One Ear?

1. Sinus Infections

A sinus infection can cause you not to hear from one or both ears. It might be accompanied by nasal congestion and a headache. Once the infection clears, your hearing will also go back to normal.

2. Ear Infection

If you can’t hear out of one ear, you might have an ear infection. You might feel ear pain and pressure. Children with ear infections produce a fluid that causes hearing loss.

3. Ear Wax Buildup

This can cause hearing loss in one or both ears. It might be gradual or sudden, especially if water gets into the ear and mixes up with the wax. You might also feel ear pressure.

4. Sensorineural Hearing Loss

In this case, you will not experience ear pressure. The only thing you might experience is tinnitus which is characterized by ringing in the ears that is mostly accompanied by nerve damage.

5. Noise-Induces Hearing Loss (NIHL)

The inner ear has a delicate mechanism that is particularly sensitive to loud noise (above 85 decibels). If you can’t hear out of one ear, it could be as a result of shooting firearms without ear plugs or sitting next to a loud speaker. The damage could be permanent or temporary depending on how close you were to the noise.

6. Medication Side Effects

Some drugs can have temporary hearing loss as a side effect. Make sure you are aware of all the possible side effects of a drug before taking it.

What to Do When I Can’t Hear Out of One Ear

1. Drain Your Earwax

If you are suspecting you have ear wax and you have no history of a hole in your eardrum or surgery, you can try out OTC wax irrigation and softener.

You can buy or prepare your own. Mix warm water with a few drops of mineral or baby oil, a few drops of glycerin and 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Lie on your side with the ear you want to drain facing downwards. Put a towel beneath your head for any excess water that spills. If you cannot lie down, tilt your head as much as you can. Pull the edge of your ear lobe upwards, making it perpendicular to your neck.

You can use a bulb syringe, glass measuring cup or a plastic syringe. If you are using a syringe, make sure you do not stick it in too deep. Lie down for 10-15 minutes to allow the solution to work. If you are using peroxide, you might hear some fizzing in your ear.

Put a bowl beneath your ear and tilt your head such that your canal drains into the bowl. Pull your ear lobe to make it tight. Dry your ear gently after all the wax has drained from the ear. You can use a paper towel or cloth to pat the ear gently. Hold a blow dryer on low heat a few inches from your ear to dry the skin.

2. Clear Your Ear Infection

Most ear inflammations that occur as a result of infections clear out on their own. If you can’t hear out of one ear, you should see a doctor, especially when you are feeling any pain, your discharge is oozing out of your ear or the pain is accompanied with a bad headache, stiff neck or high fever. The following remedies may help ease the symptoms or treat your problem.

Over the affected ear, place a warm moist cloth to ease the pain, but avoid sleeping with an electric heating pad as it may cause fire.

Your doctor can recommend OTC ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Follow the instructions on the label and consult your doctor if you have any questions.

For those with intact eardrums, prescription eardrops like Aurodex (antipyrine-benzocaine-glycerin) can provide extra pain relief. For children under the age of 2, do not use benzocaine without professional supervision.

Antibiotics can be recommended by your doctor to clear the infection. Make sure you finish the prescribed dose.

What Do the Others Do If They Can’t Hear Out of One Ear?

I could not hear out of one ear and it was because I had a wax build up. I made a solution using equal measures of water and hydrogen peroxide. I used a dropper to pour into my ears and let it work for 5 minutes after which I used a bulb syringe with warm water to get the wax out.

I called my doctor after I was unable to remove the wax with the peroxide solution. The doctor used a long tool with a small spoon at the tip and manually removed the wax. The results were perfect.

My right ear keeps clogging. However, I do not have to do anything as it clears up on its own after some time. In most cases, the clogging is as a result of a cold. Try using a decongestant and it might work.

I went to the doctor and the nurse told me my ears were clogged with wax to the extent that my ear drums were not visible. The eardrops I was using had caused my left ear canal to be inflamed. Luckily, I had stopped using it. She also told me I have otitis externa, and I was given prescription eardrops called Gentisone HC Ear Drops. I have to take them for 10 days 4 times daily.

Is It an Emergency If I Can’t Hear Out of One Ear Suddenly?

Man with his hand up to his ear experiencing sudden hearing loss in one ear.

Hearing loss is never an easy thing to deal with. But what should you do if you can’t hear out of one ear suddenly? Keep reading. You’ll learn about hearing loss in one ear, what causes it, and the treatments available.

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Why can’t I hear out of one ear?

Hearing loss is a funny thing. While most people associate it with the elderly or people who suffer some sort of eardrum trauma, it could actually happen at any point and for a number of reasons. Hearing loss that only affects one ear can happen all of a sudden or gradually and could happen in one ear or the other.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), if that’s what it is, often remains unexplained and there are about 66,000 new cases every year in the United States alone. Many cases go unreported or even misdiagnosed. Many people first experience SSNHL by waking up one morning and realizing they can only hear out of one ear. While it might be tempting to write this sudden loss of hearing off as temporary, it’s actually very important that you go see a hearing specialist right away – otherwise, a non-serious bout of hearing loss can turn into something much more damaging and permanent. If the hearing loss is from trauma or an especially loud noise, preventing inflammation will help limit the chances of long-term hearing loss.

What causes hearing loss in one ear

The most common reasons for a sudden bout of hearing loss in one ear are believed to be blockages, damage, medication side effects, or a viral inner ear infection. However, it’s important to note that the cause for sudden hearing loss is unknown in about 90% of all the cases that are diagnosed.

Viral inner ear infections often cause the hearing nerve to swell in the inner ear canal. Unchecked inflammation can cause the nerve to eventually die. That’s why it’s so important to get your ear checked out in the case of SSNHL. Letting it sit and fester can cause permanent damage. Immediate care can help reduce the swelling.

It’s also possible that sudden hearing loss in one ear is the result of a tumor, which would also need to be treated right away.

Fortunately, the other causes of SSNHL are much less serious and easy to treat. Blockages are often caused by compacted earwax, which is pushed down into the ear canal by cotton swabs. A hearing specialist can clear out a bad case of clogged ears. There are also several over-the-counter remedies available for more mild cases, such as ear drops that can unclog your ears.

What to do when you can’t hear in one ear

There are several treatments available for temporary hearing loss that affects one ear. In many cases, rest is the best bet to get your ears back to normal. This is especially true if you experience hearing loss after a night out at a loud concert. Even when it’s obvious that the hearing loss is caused by loud noises, it’s still important to see a hearing specialist. This ensures that there aren’t any underlying issues that could make you more susceptible to hearing loss in the future.

As mentioned above, you can see a hearing specialist to unclog your ears or use over-the-counter treatments. Ear infections, on the other hand, may either clear up by themselves (under a doctor’s supervision) or may need to be treated with antibiotics, depending on if the infection is viral or bacterial.

Some medications can cause hearing loss

Some medications are considered to be ototoxic, which means that they cause hearing loss under certain circumstances. These medications include aspirin, some antibiotics, chemotherapy, and diuretics, to name just a few. Concerned about hearing loss from one or more of these medications? You should consult with your doctor and hearing specialist to discuss any possible alternative medications.

If it turns out that you have permanent hearing loss in one ear, it’s best to get it treated. Uneven hearing loss is taxing on the brain, which can cause headaches. Even mild hearing loss has been associated with cognitive decline. In fact, long-term untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, memory issues, anxiety, and depression. It’s also disorienting when you can only hear from one ear. It makes it harder to locate the source of sounds, which increases your risk of accidents.

Thankfully, treating hearing loss is easy. Modern hearing aids are extremely powerful, can amplify conversation while blocking out background noise, and are extremely discreet.

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Why Can’t I Hear Out of One Ear?

It's vital to address your challenges within the first week because the ability to get better reduces significantly after that.

Hearing loss can be temporary in some cases. It depends on what’s causing the hearing loss. If it’s an outer ear or a middle ear problem, it’s more likely to be solved medically. That’s anything from earwax to ear infections or bones that aren’t aligned.

Often, professionals can either medically or surgically fix alignment issues. There are some neural hearing losses that you have a chance of getting back if you identify the signs soon enough, combined with some medications.

In this article, I’ll be discussing a common challenge with patients I see regularly – unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness (hearing loss in one ear).

An Intro to Hearing Loss

Let’s first start with some background information to deepen your understanding.

Hearing loss is anything that measures more than 20 dB threshold. So, if you can hear a sound within the first zero to 20 dB hearing level, you are considered within normal limits in each frequency and the speech range.

Do Clogged Ears Cause Unilateral Hearing Loss?

If your outer ear is full of earwax, that will block the sound from getting in. You’ll feel like you’re not hearing. Other outer ear infections could potentially do that as well.

Middle ear fluid, if it gathers, can block the transmission of sound from the three bones in your middle ear. This will cause you to feel like your ears are clogged.

However, we should not fear earwax. All ears produce a little bit of wax, and in some people, more than others. If one ear starts to build up or you use a lot of Q-tips, you’ll create a small wall of this wax in your ear. If it does clog up or gets a lot in there, you can remove it in a couple of ways:

  • Manually removed using specialized instrumentation
  • Water irrigation
  • Suction

Another cause of blocked ears may sound familiar.

There’s a little tube that connects your middle ear to your throat. If that’s not working well when you fly on an airplane, your ears will get full of air and not equalize. And you’ll also feel like your ears are full, which hinders your hearing.

Experiencing challenges hearing out of one or both ears? An expert evaluation will identify the cause and provide the best course of treatment options.

Can an Ear Infection Occur in One Ear?

Infections come from different sources. If one ear is functioning better than the other, or that tube isn’t working well, and you get fluid buildup, one ear can be affected. It depends on what causes it. But that’s mainly why the infection may not go to both sides.

Suppose you have an ear infection – we will test your hearing and see how it’s functioning. We want to see if there is any fluid or if it’s red, but we probably would refer you to an ear, nose, and throat physician or your medical physician for antibiotics.

There are other ways of doing it, but mostly they’ll look to see if they can treat the infection. Once the infection clears, the ear will return to a more normal state.

Ruptured Eardrum and Unilateral Hearing Loss

A significant enough rupture that creates a hole may cause some conductive hearing loss which would need to be remedied. It should be looked at regardless of if you have a ruptured eardrum.

Sometimes it just heals up on its own, but that depends on how it ruptured or why it ruptured.

Other Causes of Unilateral Hearing Loss

There’s a small chance of sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss. It’s not as common, but you can sit there watching football on the screen, and your ear will suddenly go out.

Sometimes that’s accompanied by ringing in your ears. That’s the only time that you would maybe want to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor. You usually want to do that within a week because immediate treatment is crucial to a successful outcome, especially if the other ear is fine.

Concerned About Hearing Loss in One Ear?

My advice is to always follow up with a professional. It’s vital to address your challenges within the first week because the ability to get better reduces significantly after that.

If you have wax in your ears or it’s a gradual buildup, you can go to your primary care doctor or your ear, nose, and throat doctor, or come to us, and we can assess your hearing. If it’s wax, we may be able to remove it for you and solve the problem.

We’ll also be able to sort and diagnose what the hearing loss looks like, and then you can take that report with you to the physician.

Partner with Experts in Virginia and Maryland

If unilateral hearing loss goes untreated, you won’t have the same direction-finding abilities you do when you have both ears working together.

It becomes challenging to understand speech and language in a noisy setting because your reference points are off base.

That’s why you want to take care of it. It’s not something you want to let sit.

For more information or to schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment with one of our experts, please click here. We are always standing by to help everyone at all our locations in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Dr. Linda Himler, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA

Dr. Linda Himler has practiced audiology and hearing aid dispensing since 1986. She has a broad background of experience and truly enjoys working with all age groups. Bringing people back into the conversations that are important in their lives, and in connection with friends and family is what gives her joy and meaning in her career. She enjoys working in her home community in Loudoun County and looks forward to improving the quality of life of her patients and their families through better hearing. Dr. Himler is certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and is Board Certified as a Fellow in Audiology through the American Academy of Audiology (FAAA). A graduate of Boston University in 1984, she received her Master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986, ultimately receiving her Doctor of Audiology from Salus University in Philadelphia in 2009. Dr. Himler has had the fortune to work in a variety of work environments including hospital audiology, private practice, a non-profit allied health center and in ENT audiology for 20 years.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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