CROS / BiCROS Hearing Aids

Complete or significant hearing loss in one ear is often referred to as Single Sided Deafness (SSD) or a Unilateral Hearing Loss. SSD is typically a permanent condition, that can arise due to a number of causes including measles, mumps, trauma, acoustic neuroma tumours and hereditary disorders. There are approximately 200 new cases of SSD reported per million inhabitants in the world, making it a rare condition.

Single Sided Deafness (SSD), or hearing loss in one ear affects sufferers in many different ways. Problems arise such as an inability to determine the direction of sound. This can make day to day tasks such as crossing the road both difficult and dangerous. However, the biggest obstacle for SSD sufferers is socialising in large groups or noisy environments. In these circumstances, many sufferers feel excluded because they miss out on group conversations, while others worry that they will appear ignorant or rude if they do not hear a question.

There is no cure for permanent Single Sided Deafness (SSD). However, there are several treatments available which can restore the sensation of hearing to the deaf side. The treatment is possible irrespective of the length of time a patient has suffered from SSD. It has proved extremely successful for some of our patients who have had total hearing loss in one ear. The two main treatment options available for hearing loss in one ear are – the BAHA (a bone anchored hearing aid device) and the CROS  hearing aid (Contralateral Routing Of Signal).

Why would you choose a CROS or BiCROS system?

  • You are missing important information from your poor ear; this could be conversations, environmental sounds and traffic sounds
  • You have difficulty localizing sounds and telling the direction from which they are coming from
  • You have to turn your head frequently so your better ear is towards the direction of sound
  • You feel unbalanced wearing just one instrument on the better ear

The common goal of CROS and BiCROS fittings is to provide audibility and awareness of signals from the unaidable side of the head to the better ear. The difference between whether you need a CROS or a BiCROS hearing aid is dependant upon the level of hearing you have in your good ear.  When your better ear hears normally then the prescribed system will be a CROS hearing aid. The transmitter placed behind or inside your poorer ear, picks up sound and transmits it wirelessly to the normal hearing ear. The hearing in your good ear will remain natural and completely unaffected. When you have a hearing loss in your better ear (BiCROS), the transmitter placed behind or inside your poorer ear, picks up sound and transmits it wirelessly to the better hearing ear. At the same time, the receiving hearing aid acts traditionally and serves as an amplifier improving hearing in that ear.

We have had significant success using the wireless CROS and BiCROS hearing aid systems since their release a few years ago. The introduction of wireless technology has advanced this particular hearing aid device, as previous generations of technology relied on wired connections which were cumbersome and cosmetically unattractive. The new generation of CROS hearing aid systems are extremely discrete and highly affective.

The leading CROS and BiCROS hearing aids are currently manufactured by Phonak and Widex.  The Phonak CROS is the smallest wireless CROS system. It is available in an award-winning behind the ear style or as a discreet custom in the ear.  Patients who suffer from hearing loss in one ear will greatly benefit from Phonak’s Real Ear Sound. This feature applies discrete, frequency-specific directionality, and helps the wearer regain the ability to source the location and direction of sound. In addition the Widex hearing aid delivers more sound and more speech owing to the improved performance of its microphones and its dynamic signal processing strategy.

Both hearing aids benefit from a fully automatic program which adjusts itself seamlessly from one listening situation to another, meaning that regardless of what you listen to (music, quiet conversation or a conversation in background noise), the hearing aids will adjust themselves to provide a unique listening program specifically suited to each situation.

If you suffer from hearing loss in one ear (unilateral hearing loss) and are interested in experiencing the benefits of a CROS or BiCROS hearing aid then contact us at Chalfont and Henley Hearing Centre today to see how we can help.

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