Asymmetrical Hearing Loss
Generally, hearing will decline evenly in each ear over time. This is often referred to as symmetrical hearing loss. However, sometimes individuals will experience a hearing loss that is disproportionate, in which one ear has worse hearing when compared to the other ear. Asymmetrical hearing loss is especially common in the older population.
The mechanisms by which asymmetrical hearing loss can occur include:
When to get an MRI?
An MRI scan of the brain and inner ear is often performed to assess for tumors or cysts that put pressure on the hearing nerve that carries sound to the brain. The current recommendation is to obtain an MRI of the head when there is a 15 dB difference over three frequencies, a 20 dB difference in two frequencies, or a 25 dB difference in one or more frequencies.
After full otologic evaluation to assess for causes of the asymmetric hearing loss, patients may benefit from hearing aids and devices.