Single-sided deafness is a condition in which you are completely unable to hear out of one of your ears, or your level of hearing loss in one ear is so severe that no amplifying or assisted-hearing device can provide any relief.
It is a condition that affects nearly 60,000 people in the United States every year. While getting used to hearing out of one ear can take a significant adjustment, there are ways to make living with single-sided deafness a little more comfortable.
Let Other Know About Your Single Sided Deafness
Refrain from hiding the fact that you are unable to hear out of one ear. People are able to offer assistance only if they are unaware that you are having difficulty. When informing family members or friends, you can simply tell them. However, for people you do not know, the ideal time to inform them might be when you are meeting them for the first time, during introductions. It is a simple way to relay the information and eliminate any awkwardness in the future if you have to ask them to repeat what they have said.
Specify Your Needs
Be as clear as possible when you have to tell others how they may be able to help you hear better. For example, asking them to sit on your left or right side or look at you directly when speaking leave no room for uncertainty. Because single-sided hearing loss is not visible, it may be easy for those not close to you to forget that you are unable to hear in one ear, so be prepared to remind them how they can help gently.
Use Non-Verbal When Speaking with Someone
Instead of verbally interrupting a conversation you may be having, you can indicate that you need someone to speak louder by cupping your hand behind your functioning ear. Leaning closer, without invading their personal space, is another way to demonstrate that you are having difficulty hearing them.
Be at Ease to Put Others at Ease
Demonstrating that you are comfortable talking about your hearing challenges can help relax others who may be uncertain how to act. If you are comfortable doing so, you can even encourage others to ask questions about your condition. If all else fails, try a little humor, which can overcome many social missteps and make others less hesitant to try again to have a conversation with you.
Interrupt in Moderation
If you have single-sided deafness, sometimes it is necessary to interrupt the conversation to ask for clarification, but it should be done in moderation. If you miss a few words in a social conversation, you may be able to gather what was meant after the speaker continues to speak for a few sentences. When you do ask for clarification, voice what you think you have heard so that the speaker will not have to repeat everything they said.
It is possible to live with single-sided deafness without reducing your quality of life. Getting yourself and others accustomed to the condition will require some patience and a willingness to be accommodating. If you need more advice for how to live with single-sided deafness, do not hesitate to speak with a hearing health specialist. They may also be able to fit you with a more permanent solution such as a hearing aid.