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With review and feedback from CEENTA ENT doctor Brendan O’Connell, MD (SouthPark)

Individuals with significant hearing loss in just one ear often encounter serious listening difficulty in daily life, particularly in noisy environments. Fortunately, they can now get cochlear implants in just one ear.

What is single-sided deafness?

Single-sided deafness – or SSD – is when a person has severe to profound hearing loss in one ear but has normal hearing in the other ear. Even though individuals with single-sided deafness can still hear normally out of one ear, the lack of access to sounds in both ears has numerous adverse effects. For one, listening in a noisy situation, like a restaurant or loud classroom, can be very challenging as they cannot suppress unwanted background noise with just one hearing ear. Further, localizing where sound is coming from is more challenging. This not only causes personal frustration but can also present safety concerns.

Lastly, children with single-sided deafness can experience difficulty participating in a classroom setting and maximizing their academic potential. Studies have shown that children with single-sided deafness are more likely to fail classes or repeat grades in school.

Brendan O'Connell, MD

What causes single-sided deafness?

SSD can be present since birth or occur spontaneously later in life in individuals who previously had normal hearing in both ears. This latter scenario is often referred to as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, CEENTA ENT doctor Brendan O’Connell, MD, said. While the cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss is often unknown, it can result from more readily identifiable causes such as traumatic injury, infection, benign tumors, or circulatory disorders.

What are cochlear implants?

Cochlear implants are surgically-implanted devices that provide electrical stimulation to the cochlear nerve, essentially bypassing the damaged regions of the inner ear/cochlea. When wearing the external part of the implant, acoustic sounds are processed into electrical signals and transmitted to the internal device. The internal device then stimulates the cochlear nerve, which carries the signal to the auditory cortex of the brain.

How do cochlear implants help?

Cochlear implants are the only technology that can restore hearing in a deafened ear. In cases of single-sided deafness, this reestablishes the ability to hear sound in both ears, which is critical for listening in challenging environments. Studies have also shown that cochlear implantation in cases of single-sided deafness improves the ability to localize where sound is coming from and results in the improvement of overall quality of life.

Are hearing aids effective?

Unfortunately, with severe-to-profound hearing loss, a traditional hearing aid cannot provide any meaningful signal to the deafened ear. Think about turning the volume up on a broken speaker, Dr. O’Connell said. While the hearing aid can increase the volume of any sound, it can’t change the quality of the sound. Therefore, clarity remains compromised.

Cochlear implant care at CEENTA

If you have SSD and want to discuss cochlear implant options, schedule an appointment at CEENTA. Our doctors will help you get the hearing you deserve from both ears.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. You can now schedule an appointment online with Dr. O’Connell or any of our more than 40 ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. You can also schedule through myCEENTAchart or by calling 704-295-3000.


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