Unilateral hearing loss, also known as single-sided deafness when the hearing loss is complete, can be addressed by CROS and BICROS hearing systems. These specialized hearing systems provide solutions specifically designed to address this type of hearing impairment.
Unilateral deafness, also known as one-sided deafness, refers to the complete loss of hearing in one ear while the other ear has normal or mild hearing loss. This condition can be permanent and may occur from birth, as a result of a congenital defect or acquired later in life due to a traumatic event or damage to the cochlea from viral, bacterial or vascular causes, leading to sensorineural hearing loss.
Audiometric testing can confirm unilateral deafness by showing a hearing threshold of ≥70 dB (decibels) in one ear, with the other ear having no deficit (normoacusis) or mild hearing loss (hearing threshold ≤ 30 dB).
Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in addressing unilateral deafness and asymmetrical hearing loss in both ENT and rehabilitation settings. Research has shown that children with unilateral deafness may experience delays in language acquisition, cognitive functions, and school performance. Adults with hearing loss often experience social discomfort and challenges in interpersonal relationships and in the workplace.
Along with the hearing loss itself, people with unilateral deafness often experience other symptoms that can significantly impact their quality of life. Tinnitus and hyperacusis are two common symptoms that are often associated with unilateral deafness. According to studies, approximately 70% of people with unilateral profound deafness experience tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. These symptoms can be particularly bothersome, as they can interfere with the ability to communicate and focus, and even disrupt sleep. The impact of tinnitus and hyperacusis can be even greater in those with unilateral deafness, as the brain struggles to compensate for the lack of input from one ear, leading to increased sensitivity and perception of sound in the unaffected ear.
As technology advances, hearing aids and other hearing devices are becoming increasingly effective in addressing unilateral deafness and asymmetrical hearing loss. For example, CROS and BICROS hearing aids are specifically designed for people with unilateral deafness, transmitting sound from the non-hearing ear to the functioning ear.
The fundamental principle behind this system is to direct the sound that would typically reach the impaired ear to the healthy ear. This is achieved through a device that includes a microphone and is placed in the ear affected by hearing loss. The microphone captures the sounds, which are then transmitted to a second device that serves as both a receiver and transmitter in the ear that still has hearing.
The BICROS system is an extension of the CROS system, specifically designed for individuals who suffer from unilateral deafness as well as hearing loss in the other ear. The hearing aids that utilise the BICROS system have a microphone in the ear affected by unilateral deafness, which transmits the sound to the receiver in the other ear. However, the second device in the BICROS system is equipped with an amplifier, which ensures the reception of sounds from both sides. This enables individuals with both unilateral deafness and a hearing loss in the other ear to hear sounds from all directions and experience better overall sound quality.
The hearing care professionals at Amplifon are happy to help you find the best hearing solution for you. They will tell you everything you need to know about the features and help you with the fit of your future hearing aid.