Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist from Anthem Arizona, discusses the best treatment options for Single Sided Deafness & some cases of Unilateral Hearing Loss.
If you have a hearing loss in only one ear, a traditional hearing aid may not be your best option. Depending on the severity of that hearing loss, you may require a different treatment all together. If you can no longer understand speech in your bad ear, amplifying it with a hearng aid will not help.
When you have no usable hearing in your bad ear, and good hearing in your better ear, you need a CROS device. This stands for Contralateral Routing Of Signal. These devices look like small hearing aids and transmit sound from your bad side to your good side. This helps you overcome the Head Shadow effect and hear speech from your bad side, on your good side.
If you are deaf in your bad ear, but also have some level of hearing loss on your better side, your best option may be a BiCROS, or Bilateral Contralateral Routing of Signal device. This is where the hearing aid on your better side receives sound from the transmitter on your bad side, but also amplifies it for the better ear that also has a hearing loss.
You may also have a surgical option that is called a BAHA or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid. This requires he implantation of a metal post or magnet into your skull by a surgeon. You then attach a Sound Processor that picks up sound from your poorer side and vibrates your skull so your better hearing ear can hear it. Sounds like magic, but any vibration of the bones in your head can be heard by your Cochlea (inner ear hearing organ). This is called bone conduction. There are even headphones that use this type of technology!
At the end of the day, just because you can’t hear in one ear, doesn’t mean that you don’t have treatment options. You just have to find a hearing care professional that is comfortable with this type of hearing loss and knows what they are doing.
Ultimately, any time you are diagnosed with a hearing loss in only one ear, or an asymmetrical hearing loss, you should be referred to an Otolaryngologist (ENT) to make sure it isn’t something serious like a tumor. If it is, you will need to get that treated immediately.