Updates on Unilateral Hearing Loss

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Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) or single-sided deafness (SSD) is a type of hearing impairment where there is normal hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other ear. Through the 1970’s and early 80’s, hearing healthcare professionals underestimated the harmful effects of UHL. The belief was originally that one normal-hearing ear was sufficient in supporting typical development in speech, language, academic, and social abilities. These thoughts however were changed thanks to continued research in this epidemic.

In 2017, Anne Marie Tharpe, PhD, chaired the Unilateral Hearing Loss in Children Conference, which featured the latest studies and research pertaining to UHL from experts in the field. Many of the conferences findings were intriguing and caused the audiological community to view UHL differently.

Research confirmed that children who experience unilateral hearing loss used language which lagged when compared to their siblings and peers with normal hearing. It was also discovered that children with UHL were 10 times more likely to fail a grade in school than their peers, requiring additional academic assistance

Children with UHL have difficulties understanding speech in environments that have multiple speakers, especially as the person speaking changes from one to another. The effort needed to locate the speaker of interest may require cognitive resources that could affect speech comprehension negatively.

Fatigue is a surprising result of UHL and is caused by the resources required to maintain acceptable performance. It can be more apparent when a listener is met with negative consequences and feels that the goal is not worth the reward.

There are several successful and accessible tools for pediatrics hearing health care professionals in supporting the hearing needs of children suffering from UHL. One example is from the benefits of Contralateral Routing of Signal devices. Another example is how the modern-day classroom has evolved, where seating is no longer in rows and can be rearranged in various configurations to help children with UHL understand more efficiently.

Ask a health care provider for more information if you feel that your child is suffering from unilateral hearing loss. Our website is a great resource and can help locate the clinic nearest you. Be sure to visit our blog soon for more informative stories that help raise awareness towards new discoveries and strategies in the world of hearing health.