Suddenly realizing that you can't hear out of one ear, or that your hearing has been dulled to the point where you have noticeable trouble hearing is alarming. Your hearing is a precious sense, and when it isn't working the way it normally does, all sorts of potential problems can cross your mind.
There's no doubt that the hearing loss could be due to something serious, and for that reason, you don't want to mess around if your hearing has started to change. However, as you wait for your appointment with the audiologist, don't panic. It is also possible that the changes in your hearing are temporary and have a simple solution. Here are some examples.
1. You Might Have a Buildup of Earwax
Dulled hearing in one ear? Your hearing loss could be because your ear canal is blocked with earwax. Your ear canals are normally good at moving bits of earwax out; little hairs in part of the ear canal nudge wax and dirt toward the opening of the canal.
However, sometimes wax can fall into the portion of the ear canal that doesn't have those hairs, and the wax can build up. When the pile of wax creates a solid wall it blocks the ear canal, and sound waves can't get in. The solution is to have the wax removed.
You don't want to wait to have an earwax buildup removed. The wax can dry, making it much harder to remove without damaging the delicate layer of skin in the ear canal. You should never attempt to remove the wax yourself. No cotton swabs! You risk pushing the wax further into the canal, you could scratch the skin or even puncture the tympanic membrane (a.k.a. your eardrum).
Of course, while an earwax blockage is common, it's not the only possible reason for hearing loss. You do need an evaluation to ensure you're not dealing with a more severe condition. Don't be afraid of the hearing loss, but don't ignore it and assume it's nothing.
2. You Might Have Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
If you've flown in a plane, then you're familiar with the feeling of extra pressure in your ears that can lead to a dulled hearing ability. Typically, when you experience this feeling or dulled hearing, swallowing or chewing something will make your ears pop and restore your hearing. In this example, your eustachian tubes, which connect your middle ear and throat, were closed and then they opened to release the built-up pressure.
You can experience this sensation while you're on the ground, too; it's just less noticeable because the change in pressure on either side of the tubes isn't as great.
The excess air pressure makes it difficult for your tympanic membrane, or eardrum, to vibrate in response to sound waves. This leads to fewer sound waves being transmitted through the middle and inner ears to your brain.
If one or both of your ears feel full and you can't get your ears to pop, then you could have eustachian tube dysfunction. In addition, when you get sick or have an infection, your tubes can become swollen, which makes it much harder for them to pop open and keep the pressure in the ears at the right levels.
These aren't the only potential temporary causes, but they are among the more common. Your hearing loss might have a simple solution, but you shouldn't take the chance. Contact our team of hearing experts at the House of Hearing to get a full evaluation. We look forward to working with you and helping care for your hearing loss. Give us a call today to get started.