Asymmetric hearing loss

An asymmetric hearing loss is when a hearing loss is greater in one ear than the other. The difference between the two ears has to be 15 dB at a number of frequencies.
Asymmetric hearing loss

What is an asymmetric hearing loss?

An asymmetric hearing loss is when a hearing loss is larger in the one ear than the other. When a person has a hearing loss, the hearing loss is almost never exactly the same in both ears. But to be characterized as an asymmetric hearing loss, there has to be a certain difference in severity between the two ears in a number of frequencies as well as being a hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss). If there is only a hearing loss in one ear it is called a unilateral hearing loss.

Definition of asymmetric hearing loss

Asymmetric hearing loss is normally defined as a difference of 15 dB between the right and left ears at three contiguous frequencies.


The causes of asymmetrical hearing loss are normally the same as for hearing loss in general such as ageing (age-related hearing loss), noise (noise-induced hearing loss), genetic causes (genetic hearing loss), drugs and injuries to the head or the ear.


An asymmetric hearing loss can be a sensorineural hearing loss (also called asymmetrical sensorineural hearing loss or ASNHL), a conductive hearing loss or a mixed hearing loss.

Identification and treatment

An asymmetric hearing loss is identified through a hearing test and it is normally treated with hearing aids or hearing implants.

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