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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2010 Nov;119(11):772-81.

Unilateral deafness in adults: effects on communication and social interaction.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Norway.



The aim of this study was to explore the self-reported consequences of profound unilateral deafness regarding communication and social interaction and to compare subjects' speech perception scores to those of normal-hearing individuals who were rendered temporarily unilaterally deaf.


Cross-sectional data from 30 individuals with unilateral deafness and 30 individuals with normal hearing (age, 14 to 75 years) were obtained through structured interviews and tests of audiovisual, auditory-only, and visual-only speech perception.


In individuals with permanent unilateral deafness, 93% reported that hearing loss affected communication. Eighty-seven percent reported problems with speech perception in noisy settings. Other consequences were feelings of exclusion, reduced well-being, and extensive use of speech perception strategies. Inducing temporary unilateral deafness (through short-term blocking of one ear) in normal-hearing subjects produced similar effects on speech perception (27% score) as those experienced by unilaterally deaf subjects (25% score).


Individuals with unilateral deafness experienced a significant disability in auditory function that affected their communication and social interaction. The major challenges were communicating in situations with background noise, in poor acoustic surroundings, and with limited access to speech-reading or direct listening. Under certain listening conditions, long-standing unilateral deafness seemed to yield no advantage over temporary deafness on one side.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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