20 August 2009


I was in graduate school, about 24 years old, when I first realized that my hearing was less than perfect. One spring afternoon I was sitting near an open window in my room and studying for an exam. I noticed that if I turned my left ear towards the window, I could hear the birds chirping outside, but that if my right ear was turned that way, it was all quiet. Of course, this wasn't such a bad thing when you were trying to ignore the external noise and concentrate on some boring subject.

Luckily, my hearing, or the lack thereof, has worsened slowly and only recently reached a point where it started to become a minor social handicap. So today, I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. The results of the standard hearing tests were pretty much what I had been suspecting.


My left ear hears barely at the normal level (the dark horizontal line), while the right ear can hear only those sounds at least ~25 decibels above it.

Although my asymmetric hearing deficiency is most likely a congenital problem—that was nevertheless almost undetectable until my early 20s—the doctor wants to do one more test to rule out a benign tumor. After that I will be getting a hearing aid.

Until then, if you run into me in the street, try to stand on my left and speak a bit louder than usual.


Frank Anderson said...

My dad's hearing is considerable worse in his right ear than in his left ear. He attributes it to years of riding around in a patrol car before air conditioning (he was a cop). The wind blasting through car windows can be pretty loud, but I dunno... I think it's his right ear because most of the time his partner did the driving? I'm not sure.

FWIW, my hearing is pretty good, but I have pretty bad tinnitus.

Coyote said...

I have some hearing loss in my left ear, the same ear that has trouble popping when changing altitude. My ENT says it's due to mild arthritis in the tiny bones in the ear stiffening up. I never thought you could get arthritis in your ears.

EcoRover said...

I have hearing loss in both ears from growing up around oil field machinery, too many rock concerts in the 70's, and too much shooting. Big handicap for a professor. After getting my sonogram, I ordered hearing aids mailorder/online from Lloyds--saved about half the cost on a high end Siemens model.