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Hearing loss on one side is a problem with receiving sound transmissions from the ear to the brain on one side only. Hearing and sound transmission are intact on the other side.

Alternative Names

Can’t hear from one ear, deaf in one ear, deaf on one side, hearing loss in one ear, unilateral hearing loss, unilateral deafness.


Hearing loss can be caused by many things – some reversible such as wax buildup in the ear canal or ear infections with fluid build up. Some hearing loss is irreversible – that due to mechanical problems within the ear itself, or sensorineural problems within the inner ear. Hearing loss should always be evaluated by a physician and may result in referral to one or more specialists. Sudden hearing loss on one side is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention.

Associated Diagnoses

Diagnosis and Treatments

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are that all infants should be screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age preferably before leaving the birth hospital. It is important to development of speech, language, cognitive function and psychosocial abilities that hearing loss be identified early. Newborn screening costs $30 per child and takes less than 10 minutes to perform.

If the screening test is positive, the baby must be referred for a follow-up diagnostic evaluation for hearing loss. Hearing loss in an infant or child cannot be confirmed with one test alone. Audiologists must do a "battery of tests" to evaluate the function of all parts of the ear.

Without universal screening by age 1 month, the average age at which hearing loss is discovered in the child is 2 to 3 years of age. Costs for special education for children with hearing loss exceeded $375 million in 1996.

Wax buildup can be gently removed at home or by your health car provider. It is recommended you seek professional care for removal of any foreign object in the ear. Never use sharp objects such as tweezers to remover a foreign body, in order to prevent further injury.

Call your provider:

  • For any hearing loss on one side.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: November 5, 2007
Last Updated: November 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
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