Are there Hearing Aids for Single-Sided Hearing Loss?
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Not everyone has hearing loss in both ears. Unilateral hearing loss is possible, too, and there are various solutions available. Some people with single-sided hearing loss don't use hearing aids, while others use one hearing aid or hearing aids in both ears. If you have single-sided hearing loss, you can even use hearing aids that are designed especially for unilateral hearing loss. These systems help to balance your hearing abilities, and typically include CROS and BiCROS systems. Asymmetrical hearing can make it difficult to hear in noisy environments and to localize sounds. However, the right solutions can help.
Single-sided hearing loss
Single-side hearing loss is typically hearing loss that occurs in one ear, while the other ear has normal hearing. Many people with hearing loss in both ears have different levels of severity in each ear, but unilateral hearing loss is a bit different. Various things can cause hearing loss in only one ear, including viral infections, Meniere's disease, and ear and head injuries. Conductive single-sided hearing loss could be caused by bacterial or viral infections, otosclerosis, destruction of the tympanic membrane (the eardrum) and injury.
Single-sided hearing loss can be addressed in a few different ways, with hearing aids being the most common treatment. Other ways to address single-sided hearing loss outside of traditional hearing aids include BAHAs (bone-anchored hearing aids).
Problems caused by single-sided hearing loss
Having hearing loss on one side can present some specific problems that might not be so problematic if you have similar hearing loss in both ears. One issue is sound localization, which can be more difficult if you have single-sided hearing loss. When you can only hear from one ear, it makes it harder to tell where a sound is coming from. This can be a problem at various times, such as when you're trying to listen for traffic while crossing the street.
Hearing in noisy environments can also be difficult with single-sided hearing loss. It can be tough to focus on one person's voice because the background noise makes it hard to concentrate on the person you're talking to. Many people with hearing loss experience this problem, but things can be more confusing when you only have hearing in one ear.
Another potential issue is that of cognitive load. This relates to when you're trying to listen to something while also performing other tasks. Even people who don't have any hearing loss can sometimes find this difficult. However, when you have single-sided hearing loss, more noise can make it more challenging to concentrate and focus on what you're doing. It can be especially noticeable if you're trying to listen to what someone is saying.
Traditional hearing aids for single-sided hearing loss
Traditional hearing aids can be an appropriate solution for single-sided hearing loss. They can be used for different types of hearing loss and different severities too.
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids are two hearing aid systems that are designed for single-sided hearing loss. A CROS (contralateral routing of sound) system has a single microphone and single receiver, which are put into two different devices that are worn in each ear. The ear with hearing loss benefits from the device with the microphone, while the other ear has the device with the receiver. This means that sounds picked up by the microphone on the side with less hearing get sent to the receiver in the ear with better hearing. The two devices are connected wirelessly so that the sound can be transmitted between them.
A BiCROS (bilateral microphones for contralateral routing of sound) system also uses two devices, but it is a system that is often chosen for people who have hearing loss in both ears, with one ear having more reduced hearing. A device with a microphone is fitted in the ear with poorer hearing, while a conventional hearing aid is fitted into the other ear. Both a CROS and BiCROS system are excellent choices for more severe hearing loss.
Hearing aids can offer a solution for single-sided hearing loss so that you can tackle some of the problems that it can cause. Talk to your hearing instrument specialist about which options are available to you if you have single-sided hearing loss.
Find out more about hearing aids for single-sided hearing loss from Nobile Hearing Aids by calling 239-772-8101.