Even though it is comparatively a rare condition, unilateral hearing loss is not a case that can be left untreated. Though individuals with unilateral loss manage with their better ear to compensate for the hearing, at times it becomes too difficult to manage especially in the presence of multiple speakers or in case of identifying the origin of the sound. Also, one must remember that the strain given to the unaffected ear is too much as it has to compensate for the affected ear. In such scenarios, the contralateral routing of signals or just simply “CROS” hearing aids come into the picture.
CROS hearing aids are used to route the signals that come from the affected side towards the unaffected side. It comes in a pair which is a conventional hearing aid that sits on the unaffected ear and a device with the microphone that sits on the affected ear. The sound that is picked up by the microphone is transferred to the hearing aid in the unaffected side wirelessly. Sometimes, it is transferred via bone conduction mode too. So, one would hear the sound that is directed to the affected ear as well.
So comes the question. How does it help if you still hear on one side? This is where CROS plays its role. Even though you hear the sound on one side, now that your CROS device picks up the sound from your affected ear as well, your conversations are now more natural, better localized (hear a vehicle passing on your affected side) and you would also become more aware of the other sounds in the environment, the very same way how normal hearing aids would amplify the sound.
However, to make the best use of CROS hearing aids, it is preferable if you have normal or near-normal hearing in your better ear. Also, it is advised that you use the hearing aid throughout the day so that you become familiar with the new listening arrangement. So yes, if you experience or if you know someone who experiences one-sided hearing loss, suggest them to go for a CROS solution. This advanced technology backed by research support will surely be beneficial in letting you or your dear ones perceive all the important sounds in the environment.