Single Sided Deafness

Single Sided Deafness (SSD) is the term given to significant or total hearing loss in one ear. SSD is usually a permanent condition. There are a number of causes of SSD including sudden deafness, measles, mumps, trauma, acoustic neuroma tumors and hereditary disorders. Every year there are approximately 200 new cases of SSD per million inhabitants in the world.

Single Sided Deafness (SSD) affects sufferers in different ways and can be very debilitating. The inability to determine the direction of a sound can make even the simplest day to day tasks like crossing the road, cycling and jogging both difficult and dangerous. But by far the biggest obstacle for SSD sufferers is socializing in large groups or noisy environments. In these circumstances, many sufferers feel excluded because they miss out on conversations, while others worry that they will appear ignorant or rude if they do not hear a question.

Single Sided Deafness in Children

Untreated single sided hearing loss in children produces several functional and developmental problems.  It is fair to say that “the more difficult the listening situation the more dysfunctional single sided hearing becomes”. For example, a child with unilateral hearing impairment will function relatively normally at home in a quiet environment with a single person interaction with known speakers. That same child may have extreme difficulty in a noisy classroom. Even if teachers, parents, and professionals think the child is doing “just fine” with hearing only on one side, it is well documented that untreated single sided hearing loss has a significant potential impact on a child’s development.  One cause of single sided deafness in children is congenital aural atresia.


There is no cure for permanent Single Sided Deafness (SSD). However, there are treatments available which can restore the sensation of hearing to the deaf side. The treatment is possible irrespective of the length of time a patient has suffered from SSD. There are two main treatment options available for SSD – the Baha (a bone anchored hearing device) and the CROS aid (Contralateral Routing Of Signal).