Hearing Loss

Alternative Solution for Single-Sided Deafness

Hearing Loss

Alternative Solution for Single-Sided Deafness

UNILATERAL HEARING LOSS: (Single side deafness SSD)

Hearing in both ears is very important for the brain. However, some people can have hearing loss in one ear, and not notice it until its too late, because the brain always tries to compensate for the difficulty. The SSD occurs when there is a severe or profound hearing loss in only one ear, and the other ear either has normal or mild to moderate hearing loss. This condition can have many causes, the more common are:

  • Congenital
  • Sudden Hearing loss in one ear (Hearing loss that happens with no reason)
  • Tumor in the ear or the brain
  • Bacterial or viral infection in the inner ear
  • Head injury that occurred on one side.

This unilateral loss creates great difficulty for the person who suffer from it. Some of those difficulties are:

  • Sound localization: Ignoring sounds or voices that are coming from the affected side.
  • Speech discrimination: Great difficulty understanding speech especially in a group of people or in the presence of background noise.
  • Frustration: As the person needs to turn their head towards the side the sound is coming from, but due to the shadow effect (Our head produces a shadow in the sound while the sound passes from one side to the opposite side), producing a reduction in the volume of the words.

The person with SSD tries to compensate for the hearing loss on one side but it might result in a stressful situation, specifically when the person takes part in group conversation, or when somebody whispers in the bad ear, or localizing sound on the streets, as the brain recognizes all the sounds like if they were coming always from the good side.

The severity of the loss can also be accompanied by poor word recognition once the brain analyzes the sound. This means that the patient is not a candidate for conventional amplification, and often the patient has been told that nothing will make him hear better, because the clarity will be missing. However, the following information will change your mind.


Fortunately, technology has a system that can help SSD cases. The CROS amplification system (contralateral routing of signal) is one of the solutions. In this amplification, the person will have a transmitter on the side with worse hearing (it looks like a hearing aid behind the ear), and a hearing aid with no amplification in the side that has normal hearing. Thus, the worse ear will receive the sound and transmit it wirelessly to the better ear so the brain can interpret the signal clearly.

The other option is the BICROS system (bilateral contralateral routing of signal) that also works like the CROS system, but the person in this case has a mild or moderate hearing loss in the better ear and more severe loss in the other side. The difference is that the better ear will receive amplification through the hearing aid and will receive the signal transmitted from the poor side, but the sound will be already amplified.

In a brief, who is a candidate for CROS or BICROS SYSTEM?

For a CROS SYSTEM: A person with normal hearing in one ear, and very bad hearing on the other ear, or with poor recognition of the words.

For BICROS SYSTEM: A person with hearing loss (mild to moderate) on one side, with good recognition of the words, and severe or profound on the other side, and with poor recognition of the words.

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