Q&A: Unilateral (One-sided) Deafness

Q&A: Unilateral (One-sided) Deafness

Unilateral, or single-sided hearing loss is something that affects many of our patients – and yes, there is help available! Thank you to Janice Bevens from Halifax, NS for this question.

FAQ – Can you help people that only have deafness in one ear?

Traditionally, for people who were diagnosed with unilateral deafness (meaning little to no residual hearing in only one ear), hearing could often be a struggle. Informally known as single-sided deafness, unilateral hearing loss occurs when hearing loss is present in only one ear. People who have been diagnosed with this condition spend a great deal of time positioning themselves in their daily interactions so that their good ear is facing the sound/voices that need to be heard. Often this can result in fatigue, embarrassment over the conversations that are missed, as well as added stress and anxiety.

The good news is that thanks to today’s technology, better hearing quality is available for people who have unilateral deafness when traditional hearing devices are not an option. Using a technology known as CROS/BiCROS, these systems redirect sound from the bad ear to the good ear, allowing the user to receive extra information that would otherwise have been missed. Today’s CROS/BiCROS systems are very small and discreet, and worn as a behind-the-ear device on both ears. In the past, these devices were bulky and connected by a wire running across the back of a user’s head which transmitted the sound from one device to the other. Thanks to the development of wireless technology, this is no longer the case.

As well, with advancements in digital sound processing, the sound quality of these devices is greatly improved. Our patients are thrilled with the results! Patients who could never treated their unilateral hearing loss before, because they were told that nothing could be done, or the large device was too large and uncomfortable, can now benefit from this new type of CROS device and improve their hearing.

Unilateral hearing loss is often caused by a virus in the inner ear, physical trauma, acoustic neuroma, Ménière’s disease or meningitis. Today’s innovations in treating unilateral hearing loss are truly remarkable. If you have ever been diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss and felt there wasn’t anything that could be done to improve your hearing, you should visit your audiologist and check out the new technology that is now available.