by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man explained:
I am deaf on my left side due to four acoustic neuroma surgeries. I now have a TransEar hearing aid but it doesn’t work like I expected. How about a CROS aid? Also, what else is new on the market?
There are a number of solutions for single-sided deafness.
1. If you have normal hearing on your good side, just be deaf on one side and practice good coping strategies to help overcome it such as sitting with your good ear “into the room” when in church, in meetings, etc. When chatting, have the person you are talking to either sit opposite you or sit on your good side—this kind of thing.
2. Get a bone-conduction hearing aid that was designed for single-sided deafness. There are three “kinds” out there of which I’m aware. All use the principle of bone conduction to transfer the sound from your deaf side to the good side.
A. Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA). This involves having a titanium screw (post) drilled into your skull and the sound processor sits on this post. This is an invasive procedure and by far the most expensive.
B. TransEar. Which you already have. This is a BTE hearing aid that has a special transducer (vibrator) that vibrates a special ear mold that fits deep in your ear canal. Note: a new model is coming out shortly that might give you better results.
C. SoundBite. This was the “new kid on the block”. It vibrates your back molars to conduct the sound to your other ear. I wrote about the SoundBite here. [Note: On February 9, 2015, the SoundBite was taken off the market so has apparently gone the way of the Dodo bird.]
3. Get a CROS hearing aid. Cross aids are basically one hearing aid in two pieces. You wear the part that contains the microphone and transmitter on your bad side, and the part that contains the receiver and amplifier on your good side. It feeds the sounds from your deaf side to your good side. Because you wear a loose-fitting ear mold, you still hear all the sounds from your good side as well.
4. Get certain high-end regular hearing aids that “talk” to each other. You can set them such that any sounds picked up by the bad ear side are automatically transmitted to the good ear (crossover) so you can hear them.
CROS aids don’t seem to be very popular any more. Maybe because regular hearing aids that can do crossover (talk to each other) can do much the same thing.
I think the darling of the industry at the moment is the BAHA. It is worth investigating if you don’t mind the surgery and risks and expense involved.
Do your homework on all of the above, then talk to your audiologist about these various options and decide on what seems the best course of action for you.