When you hear with both ears your brain can tell where a sound is coming from and even how far away it is. But when you have unilateral hearing loss or deafness in one ear judging distance and where noise is coming from is a challenge. Known as the head shadowing effect, having only one working ear can interfere with the surround sound experience normally associated with binaural hearing or hearing with two ears. In the past, a person with unilateral hearing loss would have to angle their head toward the sound source to try and make up for this shadowing. That’s why CROS and BiCROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) hearing aids were invented.
The CROS and BiCROS hearing aids use a microphone on the "bad" ear that delivers sound to the functioning ear either via a wire or wirelessly, creating a feeling closer to binaural or hearing with both ears.
So when does someone need CROS as opposed to BiCROS? If you have no hearing issues with one ear and you're only problem is with an unaidable ear then you would use CROS. If you have no hearing in one ear and hearing loss in the second ear then you would use BiCROS. Using CROS and BiCROS hearing aids have long been recommended to achieve binaural hearing. The benefits of using CROS and BiCROS hearing aids were noted in an article by the Better Hearing Institute:
When CROS and BiCROS hearing aids first arrived on the market many patients believed they had not delivered on the above mentioned benefits. In fact, patients as recent as 2007 complained about issues with this technology. But when you're talking about the fast paced technology of hearing aids, a few years can make a big difference. Today's advances in CROS and BiCROS technology have not only convinced and created a more satisfied user, but they have made advances great enough to convert these users to this technology for life.
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids have benefitted from the advances in digital technology which allows features such as automatic programming and directional microphones to be available. Of course, with the additions of these technologies a bigger battery is needed, but most users find they are willing to put up with the increase in size of hearing aid battery for the convince of today's remarkable features. Patients with CROS and BiCROS have also stated that having the option of having a remote helped them considerably, because they found that overriding the automatic settings was sometimes necessary.
Note: an issue for some patients has been getting used to having hearing aids on both ears.
So what are some of the newer choices in CROS and BiCROS hearing aids now on the market?
Phonak introduced the first ever water-resistant CROS hearing aid, CROS H20. The Phonak CROS family of hearing aids makes single sided hearing feel more like hearing with both ears. Phonak’s CROS system wirelessly delivers this 360 sound into the one hearing ear. Advanced features include: One touch synchronization that allows volume or program settings to be easily adjusted. Sound Flow means hearing aids adapt seamlessly adapt to different environments. Real Ear Sound a highly advanced system that mimics organic sounds. Water, dust resistant, and wireless technologies are also great features of the CROS H20 model.
CROS 13 is a unique In-The-Ear hearing aid that can be focused in a bunch of different directions and the longer lasting size 13 battery. Advanced features include: Sound Flow to allow hearing aids to seamlessly adapt to varying listening environments. Real Ear Sound a highly advanced system that mimics organic sounds. Open Ear that decreases occlusion or the feeling of having a stuffed ear.
Other newer hearing aids available in CROS and BiCROS include Unitron’s Tandem™ 16 which includes AutoPro 3 to adjust to various listening environments, Speech Enhancement which makes speech clearer without having to adjust volume, and an optional remote that lets you discreetly adjusts the advanced features.
Since many of the big chain stores don't have the latest in CROS and BiCROS technology consumers often find that a local audiologist or ENT has better product and experience with these types of hearing aids. 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!