Challenges of Single-Sided Hearing Loss

We recently received an unsolicited testimonial letter from a Signia primax™ wearer named Ruth Ann Griffith. Ruth Ann has severe hearing loss in one ear and is nearly deaf in the right. When hearing loss is so bad in one ear that even wearing a hearing aid cannot restore usable function (i.e., unaidable), it is referred to as single-sided or unilateral hearing loss. Fortunately, this condition is not insurmountable, as Ruth Ann has discovered.

Single-sided hearing loss poses unique challenges

When hearing is far worse in one ear than the other correcting the overall hearing loss becomes more complicated. Single-sided hearing loss can make it especially hard to understand speech in loud environments or figure out from which direction a sound is coming. You likely have to remind people to speak toward your “good” side or have to keep turning your head during conversations in ways that can be uncomfortable or inconvenient.

Hearing care professionals frequently advocate for binaural (two ear) solutions, like wearing hearing aids in pairs, in order to better mimic natural hearing ― utilizing input from both ears to create a complete sound impression in your brain. But what happens when this is impossible because one ear is unaidable?

The answer is a CROS/BiCROS solution.

The differences between CROS and BiCROS

Some people only have severe, profound, or complete hearing loss in one ear while the other has normal or near-normal hearing. In this instance, there is no need for a hearing aid in the natural hearing ear to amplify or clarify sounds coming from that side of your head. However, wearing a CROS/BiCROS system remains a viable solution, as it enables you to hear binaurally again, and thus improves your ability to localize sound, talk on the phone, and understand speech no matter which direction it comes from. The following clarifies how CROS and BiCROS work:

  • CROS: A CROS transmitter worn in your “bad” ear receives sound coming toward that side and transmits it wirelessly to a primax hearing ear worn in the ear with normal hearing so that you hear it in your “good” ear. The hearing aid itself doesn’t otherwise amplify sound.
  • BiCROS: A hearing aid worn in the ear with aidable hearing loss receives the sound from the CROS transmitter worn in your unaidable ear, mixes it with its own sound input, and amplifies the mixed signal for hearing through your “better” ear.

signia hearing cros transmitter

((click image to enlarge))

So, whether your hearing loss solely affects one ear or is present in both ears (but worse on one side than the other), an effective binaural solution is still possible. Talk to your hearing care professional about a CROS/BiCROS system and test it out for yourself!