Hearing loss usually affects both your ears the same way. But sometimes the degree of the loss in one ear will be higher than in the other ear. If that’s the case, you could have asymmetric hearing loss.
What Is Asymmetric Hearing Loss?
Experts tend to disagree on the very definition of asymmetric hearing loss. The main point of disagreement is the difference in hearing loss between the two ears. In one study, the authors suggest that the threshold for diagnosis should be 15dB at 3 kHz. But another study recommends that the difference should be at least 20dB at the same frequency.
This disagreement creates some problems for people who suffer from the condition. For one, different doctors will have different criteria for giving the diagnosis. Health insurance companies will also take advantage of the fact. Getting an MRI scan can thus prove rather difficult.
What Causes Asymmetric Hearing Loss?
Asymmetric hearing loss usually occurs for one of the following reasons:
- Vestibular schwannoma, a benign tumor that presses on the inner ear nerves
- Prolonged uneven exposure to noise
- Viral infections of the hearing nerves
- Head injuries
What Are the Treatment Options?
As a rule, doctors will first perform an MRI scan of your inner ear, as well as your brain. This will help them determine the cause of hearing loss and devise a treatment plan. If there’s a tumor, they will remove it in surgery.
But like other types of hearing loss, there is no way to reverse it in full. As such, hearing aids may help you better cope with your impairment.
If your hearing loss differs between your left and your right ear, you should talk to your doctor. They will be able to prevent further damage by isolating the cause of the problem.