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Single Sided Deafness (SSD)

Single Sided Deafness

In the past couple of weeks, I've been talking so much about Single Sided Deafness (SSD).  I've met people in my office, I've met people out in the community, but the most interesting person was just this past Saturday when I tested my own mother.  

Now, a little back story, my mom has had hearing loss as long as I've known her.  She has otosclerosis which is a disease of the middle ear where the stapes (stirrup) no longer moves and becomes fixed in its space.  I remember my mom having really big noticeable hearing aids when I was just four years old.  She had surgeries to fix this stapes fixation, but unfortunately, the surgeries didn't always work.  Fast forward to 2002, she has the surgery again and success!!!!  However, as time goes on, her hearing starts to worsen so she is back to wearing hearing aids again.   Fast forward again to 2019 and she tells me her left ear is really not hearing well.  I was SHOCKED to learn her left ear does not respond to the maximum outputs of my audiometer!!!!  So, I fit her with my demo pair of hearing aids to help someone with SSD and she is AMAZED.  Her older hearing aids weren't doing the job.  The best part of this story...her TV volume was at 100 with her old hearing aids and now it's at 24!!!! 

Do you know what SSD is?

  • Wikipedia has it right: "Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) is a type of hearing impairment where there is normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other ear."
  • SSD is unilateral hearing loss

What are some reasons for SSD?

  • Acoustic tumors
  • Virus
  • Sudden unilateral hearing loss
  • Trauma

I asked a couple of my patients who have SSD to write up their stories.   They are pasted below:

  • "After many year of mild hearing loss, and wearing hearing aids, I suddenly sustained a serious middle ear infection that required surgery (mastoidectomy) this past year.  As a result of the surgery, I have lost about 80% of the hearing in one ear.  After doing a lot of research, I located Dr White who suggested I should try the CROS system for single side hearing loss.  After reviewing my condition and the possible options, I agreed with her suggestion and was given a CROS system to demo.  The system has worked well for me and the fact that I can now hear conversations all around me has made my hearing loss greatly improved in my work environment.  I think any one who has single side hearing loss would be well served to review the CROS system to help you gain your all round hearing again. I never realized how depend you are on hearing from two sources (both ears).  I can also highly recommend Dr White, she takes her time, explains in detail and listens to what your issues are, to help arrive at the best solution for your hearing problem. It is a rare find in the medical field these days." - Mr. G
  • "I lost my hearing in my left ear in 2008 from an acoustic neuroma.  I chose to have Gamma Knife Radiation to reduce the size of the tumor rather than have an open procedure.
    I eventually started losing the hearing in my better (right) ear and was having difficulty understanding people when they talked. My ENT doctor recommended an external hearing device that would be attached to my skull (osseointegrated device) but I decided I didn't want that type so passed on the idea. I then found the CROS hearing aid when I went to an audiologist (it was becoming more difficult to understand my granddaughter). This device worked for me. I found Dr. White when I moved to Viera and she fine tuned the aides and now all is so much improved for me." - Mrs. M

Unfortunately, I meet so many people who have been told there is nothing that can be done for their single sided deafness.  CROS hearing aids have been out since the 1980s.  Of  course, the technology has improved greatly.   My patients are so happy to hear from their "bad" ear, it is truly life changing. 

Education is power, knowledge is power, information is power.  If you have met me, you have most likely heard me talk about the importance of our hearing.  However, hearing health is often overlooked as part of an annual wellness exam and I am trying to make a change in our community.   Please help me make a change by talking to your primary care provider about your hearing health and feel free to share this email with anyone who may be suffering with single sided deafness or sharing with your other providers. 

Happy Hearing,
Dr. Liz White