Sounding out single-sided deafness
Single-sided deafness has the potential to dramatically impact patients' quality of life.
Single-sided deafness refers to significant or total sensorineural hearing loss unilaterally.
There are about 200 new cases of single-sided deafness per million inhabitants in the world and approximately 4000 new cases in Australia annually.1
Initial assessment should include full history and examination. Examination should assess the tympanic membrane and include tuning fork testing for sensorineural hearing loss.
Referral to an ENT surgeon with an audiogram is required. The more acute the deafness, the more urgent the referral, as the quality of life impact is greater.
The most common causes of single-sided deafness are trauma (head injury, surgery), infections (viral or bacterial), tumours in or around the ear, and sudden hearing loss.