Hearing bilaterally, with both ears, helps people automatically determine distance to the sound, where a noise is coming from, and gives a greater sense of balance. When a person suffers from unilateral hearing loss, judging distance and noise location becomes a challenge that can compromise balance. People with unilateral hearing loss, learn to angle their head toward the sound to compensate, but today's hearing aids have a better solution. It's called Contralateral Routing of Signal (CROS).
Lack of spatial awareness due to unilateral hearing loss can cause misperceptions with balance.
According to Healthy Hearing.com, "Sound arrives at one ear a split second before it reaches the other ear on the other side of your head. The split second sound delivery time enables the hearing centers of the brain to determine the location of source of the sound--a throwback to our prehistoric ancestors who needed to know the location of the dangers around them." Dr. Lin
Without this ability, people can have difficulty in judging distance and may even be more likely to experience unexpected falls. Hearing aids have been developed specifically to aid people with unilateral hearing loss, deafness in one ear, or even "lopsided" hearing loss--hearing loss that is greater in one ear than the other.
Contralateral Routing of Signal (CROS) hearing aids picks up the signals from the "compromised" ear and delivers it to the "functioning" ear, creating the feel of hearing with both ears. This helps people better understand distance and where the sound is coming from. CROS hearing aids are used for unilateral hearing loss, but for those who also have mild or moderate hearing loss in their one functioning or “good” ear should use BiCROS hearing aids. So what are some of the 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 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.
If you'd like to learn more about the hearing aids available for unilateral hearing loss, 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!