Asymmetrical Hearing Loss
For the majority of the population, progressive hearing loss affects both ears equally. The balance or symmetry between ears is very important to how the brain interrupts and processes what we hear. What happens when there is not a good balance between ears? What can be done to improve the hearing of a patient with an asymmetrical hearing loss?
Factors of an Asymmetrical Hearing Loss
There are many factors that can cause a permanent asymmetry in hearing, including: trauma to one side, infections in the inner ear or brain, otologic diseases such as Meniere’s disease, sudden idiopathic hearing losses, or tumors. Any significant difference in hearing should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Once an asymmetrical hearing loss is medically cleared, the rehabilitative process can begin.
Key factors in the treatment of asymmetrical hearing loss are: the degree of loss measured in both ears, the functional ability of the brain to process speech information from each ear, and the patient’s subjective perception of hearing from each side. It is very important to get a comprehensive evaluation that can look at these aspects of the auditory system.
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There are many different treatment options depending on the above factors but the goal is always the same: Improve balance between the ears and increase communicative abilities. Treatment options include: traditional hearing aids for one or both ears, a CROS or Bi-CROS hearing aid system, or a surgical procedure such as a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA).
If speech comprehension can be improved and equalized between ears, a traditional hearing aid is often the best option for treatment.
If there is a complete loss of hearing with no benefit from amplification on one side, we are able to use a CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) hearing aid to create the perception of hearing on the worse side. A CROS hearing aid is worn on the “bad” or worse hearing ear and sends sound information to the better hearing ear to be processed. The CROS system is essentially “tricking” the brain to think that it is hearing from both sides. This system allows many patients to have improved localization to where a sound is coming from and can improve hearing in difficult listening environments. The BAHA is a 2-part system (external processor and implant for retention) that is mainly used for conductive hearing loss and single sided deafness.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication or suffer from an asymmetrical hearing loss and are ready talk about options for improving quality of life, Call ENT Audiology Center at (325) 437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation. ENT Audiology Center, “Helping You Hear Better So You Can Live Life Better.”
For more information visit ENTAudiologyCenter.com