Single-sided deafness, also known as unilateral hearing loss, is a very common disability. Cleveland Clinic states “about 60,000 people in the U.S. acquire single-sided deafness (SSD) every year and many try to manage without the benefit of available devices”. The most common cause of single-sided deafness is from surgeries involving the head and brain. Generally, it is difficult to diagnose single-sided deafness due to most individuals compensating with the use of the other ear. It has been proven that “the most common symptom is an inability to separate background noise from the sounds you want to hear” (hear-it.org). Those who have single-sided deafness struggle with locating the direction of sound. This is especially dangerous when driving as the individual cannot determine where honks, sirens, and other important traffic noises are coming from.
Although single-sided deafness cannot be cured, there are ways to help deal individuals living with it. Three popular hearing aids, designed for this disorder, are the CROS, BiCROS, and BAHA hearing aids. These hearing aids work by “transferring sound from the deaf side to the hearing ear” (hear-it.org).
CROS Hearing Aids
One can be a candidate for a CROS, contralateral routing of signal, hearing aid if one has normal of good hearing in one ear and hearing that cannot be helped in the other ear (nchearingloss.org). Essentially, the CROS wearer will have noise intensified in the “bad” ear and the normal hearing ear will receive no additional intensification.
BiCROS Hearing Aids
A BiCROS, bilateral routing of signal, hearing aid differs from a CROS hearing aid in the sense that it is made for individuals with a “so-so” ear and a “bad” ear. One would be a candidate for a BiCROS if they have a small amount of hearing loss in the good ear and very minimal or no hearing from the bad ear. This hearing aid is very similar to the CROS “except that the device on the good side is actually a fully capable hearing aid for hearing sounds from the good side that is also capable of receiving the sound transmitted from the CROS aid on the other side” (nchearingloss.org).
BAHA, bone-anchored hearing aids, aids are a relatively new hearing aid to help with single-sided deafness. The ideal candidate for a BAHA aid would be one with conductive hearing loss due to the aid specifically passing over the middle ear. BAHA aids require more energy than CROS and BiCROS hearing aids due to the fact that the aid gets implemented on the individual’s mastoid bone, a spot right behind the ear. Surgery is required for the titanium implant to be placed on the bone. BAHA aid works by “enter[ing] it’s sound output into the cochlear by vibrating the mastoid bone (the large bony mass just behind the ear) instead of by directing amplified sound at the eardrum” (nchearingloss.org). The vibrations on the mastoid bone are what cause the sound.
Overall, there are many different ways to help with single-sided deafness. All you have to do is talk to your local audiologist.