Audiology/Otolaryngology/Left ear deafness


Three years ago I sneezed, and about 1/2 hour later after I stood up I became very, very dizzy and I went deaf in my right ear. My hearing has never come back. I did not have a cold or virual infection, or anything other than just sneezing. I have seen several ENT's and no explanation was ever given to me. Would you have a guess as to why I went deaf in one ear? One ENT just recently suggested a Cochlear implant. I now hear loud noises sounding like the ocean in my ear 24 hours a day. I can't hear one speaking if the background noise in a room is loud, and if one is calling me from a distance I am not sure where the voice is coming from. Thanks for your help.

Hello John,

I am sorry to hear of your sudden hearing loss in one ear.  Unfortunately, occurrences such as yours can be very difficult to definitively identify the underlying cause.  My first quest is why you believe the sneeze was a factor if the hearing loss and dizziness did not start until a half hour later?  Many sudden hearing losses are thought to be viral or vascular in nature, with about two thirds resulting in some hearing loss.  Less frequently, a tremendous strain or impact can rupture a membrane in the inner ear and case abnormal fluid communication, called a fistula.  A sneeze really would not fall into that category to cause this problem, but if you already had a fistula, then sneezing could bring symptoms on.  I would probably bet on something vascular in nature, which resulted in losing the necessary blood supply to the inner ear.  How long did you remain dizzy (vertigo)?

As far as the cochlear implant and your tinnitus (internal noises), I think this is a reasonable recommendation, although current FDA candidacy requires hearing loss in both ears.  Some insurances (such as medicare) will likely not cover this surgery or equipment because it would be considered "off label."  Unilateral CI are starting to be done more in Europe and to a much lesser extent in the US as well.  The major adjustment in unilateral cases (such as yours), is that the sound/signal you would receive from the CI would be VERY different from what you are used to and may cause you to function more poorly in the beginning months.  Proper adjustments (called "mapping") and consistent use and listening "exercises" would be required for you to achieve your best outcomes.

Finally, your ability to localize sounds (fine ability to detect direction) will never return, but possibly a very general lateralization (telling if the sound is on the left or the right side) could be possible with a cochlear implant or even a Baha implant (a hearing aid worn on the deaf side which communicates with the good ear through bone vibration).  There is also a type of hearing configuration called a CROS that does basically the same thing as a Baha, but without needing surgery (there are some pros and cons, which should be discussed with your audiologist).

I hope this information helps.

Clint Keifer  


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Dr. Clint D. Keifer, Audiologist


I am qualified to answer all questions related to the diagnosis and rehabilitative treatment of hearing and balance disorders. This includes evaluation of hearing and balance, counseling, amplification (hearing aids and assistive devices), tinnitus (noises in head) evaluation and management, cochlear implants, and audiology in general.


I started my career as a hearing instrument specialist (on a trainee license) in 1998. After almost 2 years, I decided that I needed to pursue higher education if I was to provide the best care to hearing impaired patients that I could. In 2007, I completed my Doctor of Audiology and have been providing audiological care for almost 5 years. I have vestibular, cochlear implant, and pediatric experience along with prescribing, fitting, and verification of hearing aid amplification as part of comprehensive hearing loss rehabilitation.

Audiology doctor and owner at Great Lakes Audiology in Toledo, OH. phone: 419 327-2273 website: American Academy of Audiology American Speech-Language Hearing Association Ohio Academy of Audiology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Western Michigan University, Speech Pathology and Audiology Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), Ohio State University Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A)

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