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Hearing Loss in One Ear Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

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Last updated October 16, 2020

Hearing loss questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your hearing loss.

Understand your hearing loss in one ear symptoms, including 9 causes and common questions.

Hearing loss questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your hearing loss.

Hearing loss symptom checker

8 causes of hearing loss in one ear

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced hearing loss in one ear. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Glue ear (otitis media with effusion)

"Glue ear" is caused by fluid built up in the middle ear (under the eardrum). It happens more frequently in kids than adults because of having frequent colds and less developed tubes in the ear. In adults, it's caused by acute or chronic sinusitis in 66% of cases. It may also be caused by cigarette smoke, allergies, reflux, genetics, or bacteria, all of which stimulate the production of the fluid.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: ear fullness/pressure, constant hearing loss, hearing loss in one ear, trouble hearing that is better in noisy environments, ear canal pain

Symptoms that always occur with glue ear (otitis media with effusion): ear fullness/pressure, hearing loss in one ear, constant hearing loss

Symptoms that never occur with glue ear (otitis media with effusion): ear canal pain, fever

Urgency: Wait and watch

Earwax blockage

Ear wax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum, which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside. Ear wax buildup has nothing to do with poor hygiene, and it is not possible to prevent a build-up by washing.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears

Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage: swollen ear, fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Hearing loss questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your hearing loss.

Hearing loss symptom checker

Possible meniere's disease

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It can cause severe dizziness, a roaring sound in the ears called tinnitus, hearing loss that comes and goes and the feeling of ear pressure or pain. Meniere's commonly develops between the ages of 20 and 60, and most often starts in only one ear.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: nausea, episodic dizziness, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), ear fullness/pressure

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Cholesteatoma (a non-cancerous growth in the ear)

Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst that is located in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull. It can be a birth defect though more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears, pain in one ear canal, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss in one ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Brain tumor or mass

In medical terms, "mass" and "tumor" mean the same thing: the unexplained, out-of-place growth of tissue anywhere in the body, including the brain.

The cause of any sort of brain tumor is unknown. Some originate in the brain, while others spread from cancers growing in other parts of the body.

Symptoms may include increasing headaches; nausea and vomiting; blurred or double vision; loss of sensation in an arm or leg; loss of balance; confusion; speech difficulties; or seizures.

If symptoms persist, it is important to see a medical provider so that any treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Diagnosis is made through neurological examination, CT scan, and/or MRI.

If the mass or tumor is found to be benign, that means it is not cancer and not harmful. It may or may not be treated.

If it is malignant, that means it is cancer and must be treated. This will involve some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, followed by specialized therapy to help with recovery.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, irritability

Symptoms that always occur with brain tumor or mass: focal neurological symptoms

Urgency: In-person visit

Burst ear drum

The ear drum is a thin membrane that vibrates as sound hits it, transmitting that vibration into signals that the brain understands! When it bursts, your hearing is affected. It typically happens after some force to the ear drum, such as a blow to the ear, an exploding firecracker, a fall onto water, or even a sharp object in the ear.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear canal pain, constant ear pain, ringing in the ears, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss

Symptoms that always occur with burst ear drum: ear canal pain, recent ear injury, constant ear pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Hearing loss questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your hearing loss.

Hearing loss symptom checker

Bell's palsy

Bell’s palsy can present as acute or chronic facial paralysis. This paralysis is usually sudden in onset and worsens over the course of 48 hours. Resolution of symptoms usually occurs within two weeks to six months but permanent paralysis can rarely occur. Symptoms of this condition are a result of the paralysis of facial muscles. This paralysis usually occurs only on one side of the face. The cause of Bell’s palsy is inflammation or damage to the facial nerve, also known as cranial nerve VII. This nerve controls the muscles of the face. Treatment is aimed at reducing inflammation or targeting the underlying cause of facial nerve paralysis.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: arm weakness, facial numbness, arm weakness, hearing loss, pain on one side of the face

Symptoms that always occur with bell's palsy: face weakness, weakness in one side of the face

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Age-related hearing loss

More than 2.2M adults over the age of 70 have age-related hearing issues. It is caused by a buildup of Hearing loss has been attributed to loneliness, declining activity, and lower quality of life for seniors.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: possible hearing loss, increased difficulty with speech due to hearing loss, hearing loss that is worse in noisy environments

Symptoms that always occur with age-related hearing loss: possible hearing loss

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions your doctor may ask about hearing loss in one ear

  • Have you been experiencing dizziness?
  • Do you hear a ringing or whistling sound no one else hears?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Has your hearing loss been confirmed by a test?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Hearing loss in one ear symptom checker statistics

People who have experienced hearing loss in one ear have also experienced:

  • 7% Ringing In The Ears
  • 7% Pain In One Ear Canal
  • 7% Ear Fullness/Pressure

People who have experienced hearing loss in one ear were most often matched with:

  • 60% Possible Meniere'S Disease
  • 40% Earwax Blockage

People who have experienced hearing loss in one ear had symptoms persist for:

  • 36% Less than a day
  • 25% Over a month
  • 22% Less than a week

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant.

Hear what 2 others are saying
Partially deafPosted July 16, 2021 by K.
At the age of 5, I wanted to be a professional diver and swimmer. I jumped off the highest diving board for the 13th time but this time a little boy called out my name and I turned my head to the left just as I hit the water. The funniest thing I remember is my bathing suit falling off and I was more embarrassed about that than I was about the pain in my ear. The following weekend I went swimming in a lake and, unfortunately, amoebas entered into the right ear and had a field day with the mastoid bones. Surgeries followed with the shaving of the mastoid and placing it back in over and over again, but not successful. Without the Master Hearing aid, a hearing aid is not applicable. A transmitter was purchased, however, the noise was twice as much as what I hear and I could not bear the loud noise. I can lay on my good ear to get a good night's rest without any disturbance. It has its disadvantages and advantages too. I do need assistance from time to time, especially when it comes to clarification and misunderstanding.
Hearing loss since a childPosted March 27, 2021 by W.
If you lost your hearing in your left ear before the first grade, how can that affect your ability to learn??? I even dropped out of school because of the anger—because teachers didn't understand or care. I have often wondered how much I missed or didn't understand in my life. I had parents who did not understand the importance of hearing. That has also caused a lot of anger later in life, and a lot of problems. Alcohol, lots of drugs. Two divorces. How I survived is a surprise even to me. However, I have survived: 3 major surgeries, cancer in '83, and now again in 2020. I must have some very good Angels! And a little luck.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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