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Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unilateral Hearing Loss: Audiologist and Treatments

Boy with puppy happy after having unilateral hearing loss treated by an audiologist.

Treating unilateral hearing loss is essential for children to reach developmental milestones in communication, education, and socialization. Unilateral hearing loss differs in treatment options from traditional hearing loss in that a traditional hearing aid is not always recommended. Use of a traditional hearing aid depends on the level of hearing loss in the impaired ear. Other options such as hearing aids designed specifically for severe unilateral hearing loss and FM systems for classrooms may be more appropriate.

An audiologist can help you decide which of the treatments below might best meet you or your child’s needs.

Audiologist: An audiologist is a hearing health professional with eight years or more of education in hearing and rehabilitation of hearing. A Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) or what most people call an Audiologist is educated and trained to prevent, identify, and assess hearing disorders, as well as to provide treatment—including hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.

Treatments for Unilateral Hearing Loss

  • Traditional Hearing Aids
  • If a child has mild or moderate hearing loss in one ear a traditional hearing aid might help them to hear better in the classroom and enable them to keep up with other students. Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are recommended for children up to twelve years of age. After twelve the growth of the ear canal has typically slowed and progressed to a point where the child can be fitted for an In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aid. A child under eighteen must have authorization by an audiologist in order to qualify for a hearing aid. An audiologist is also the best option to have a hearing aid properly fit—ensuring that a child doesn’t hesitate to use their hearing aid due to problems with discomfort or sound.

  • Frequency Modulating Systems (FM)
  • A Frequency Modulating system is used to make sounds clearer. It typically consist of three parts, a microphone, transmitter, and a receiver. The microphone is part of a transmitter that is placed near the speaker or sound source. The transmitter transmits these sounds either directly to a hearing aid or to a receiver worn around the neck. This system can be used by itself or in conjunction with a hearing aid. Learn More...

  • Contralateral Routing of Signal (CROS)
  • In the past a person unable to hear well or deaf in one ear, (meaning that ear can’t be aided by a hearing aid), would have to direct their one “functioning” ear toward sounds. CROS, (Contralateral Routing of Signal) means that the functioning ear will have the ability to pick up surrounding sounds without adjusting head position. The CROS hearing aid picks up signals on the "bad" side and delivers them to the functioning ear. This helps individuals to listen in background noise, localize sound, and aides with spatial awareness. Note: It is recommended for those with mild or moderate hearing loss in their one functioning ear to use BiCROS hearing aids.

    It is now known that treating unilateral hearing loss is essential for growth in childhood and to avoid miscommunication and isolation in adults. If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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