Do you have a “better ear?” Is it easier to follow conversations when someone is sitting close to your “better ear?” Many of us have a preference for which ear we use on the telephone. Losing hearing in one ear is referred to as #UnilateralHearingLoss. Profound unilateral hearing loss is hearing loss greater than 91dB, is referred to as single-sided deafness. Hearing professionals often abbreviate single-sided deafness as “SSD”. SSD is a condition in which hearing has been lost in one ear while the hearing in the other ear is normal or nearly normal. Hearing loss can be present in both ears, but with single-sided deafness, one ear has no usable hearing and cannot benefit from amplification. Unfortunately, there is no cure for SSD; but there are effective non-surgical and surgical treatment options available.
To make it perfectly clear, it is very important to hear with two ears. Relying on one ear to hear is challenging and difficult listening environments are exhausting for someone with single-sided deafness. The auditory system is designed to receive input from both ears and to hear well with both ears enables us locate where sounds are coming from and improves overall loudness.
Individuals with single-sided deafness may do fine in quiet, one-on-one conversations, but following conversations in noisy environments is difficult. Separating speech from background noise is hard to do when you rely on just one ear to hear. Determining where sounds are coming from is also difficult.
There are many causes of single-sided deafness, including trauma, acoustic neuroma, viral and bacterial infections, and circulatory disorders which are all known causes of single-sided deafness. When the cause cannot be explained, SSD is described as sudden idiopathic hearing loss.
Non-surgical treatment options for single-sided deafness include STARKEY’s CROS and BiCROS hearing aids. These hearing aids are designed to direct important environmental and speech sounds from the ear with the poorer hearing to the ear with better hearing, restoring the sensation of hearing sounds bilaterally. Both options improve sound awareness, speech understanding, and can reduce listening effort by restoring the sensation of hearing sounds in both ears. The Audiologists at Oklahoma Hearing Center are trained to work with CROS and BiCROS hearing aids and are able to reprogram them to accommodate changes in hearing while providing customizable tinnitus relief, as well. In both a CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) and BiCROS (Bilateral Contralateral Routing of Signal) system, the user wears a device in both ears; a microphone worn in the ear with the poorer hearing wirelessly transmits sound to a receiver worn in the ear with better hearing. The two work amazingly together to restore the sensation of bilateral hearing while improving sound localization and overall loudness.
Both systems offer wireless connectivity for ear-to-ear streaming phone conversations, as well as television, music and other media. While the two systems operate similarly, each is used to treat a different degree of hearing loss.
Also, there are surgical treatment options for single-sided deafness. Surgical treatment options are also available and include bone-anchored implants. Bone-anchored implants route sound to the better ear using bone conduction. A titanium screw is surgically anchored to the skull behind the ear with the poorer hearing, then a sound processor is attached externally to transmit sound through the skull to the cochlea of that ear.
OKLAHOMA HEARING CENTER can help! The auditory system is designed to receive input from both ears. Losing hearing in one ear can cause significant auditory hardship. The Audiologists at Oklahoma Hearing Center will work with you to improve sound awareness, speech understanding and reduce listening effort for anyone with single-sided deafness. Call 405.562.1810 to make an appointment! www.okhc.org