Bilateral hearing loss

What is a bilateral hearing loss and what does it mean? A bilateral hearing impairment is when you have hearing loss in both ears. Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments.

Definition of bilateral hearing loss

A bilateral hearing loss is a hearing loss in both ears. A bilateral hearing loss can have different degrees: mild, moderate, severe or profound. The bilateral hearing impairment may be caused by factors in the outer, middle or inner ear or a combination of these areas. 

Symptoms of bilateral hearing loss

The symptoms of a bilateral hearing loss are reduced hearing in both ears.

A bilateral hearing loss can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. When it is symmetrical, the hearing loss is about the same in both ears. When it is asymmetrical the one ear hears better than the other, but in both cases there is a hearing loss in both ears. 

Causes of bilateral hearing loss

A bilateral hearing loss can be caused by many factors. The most common causes are: age, noise exposure, heredity (genes) and medication, which all mostly lead to a sensorineural hearing loss. You can also have a bilateral hearing loss if both of your ears’ ability to conduct sound into the inner ear are blocked or reduced. This is called a conductive hearing loss.

When the bilateral hearing loss is both conductive and sensorineural, it is called a mixed hearing loss.

Treatments of bilateral hearing loss

Some cases of bilateral hearing loss can be treated with surgery. Other types of bilateral hearing loss are best treated with hearing aids. Whether you need one or two hearing aids depends of the degree of hearing loss in each ear. 

In some cases of bilateral hearing loss both surgery and the use of hearing aids are recommended.

If you only have a hearing loss in one ear it is called single sided deafness.

If you think that you have a bilateral hearing loss, you should contact your family doctor or a hearing health care professional.

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