Have you ever noticed that one ear hears better than the other? If so, you’re in the majority. Much like our eyes that often require two different prescriptions, our ears have individual needs as well. Luckily, like glasses, there are types of hearing aids available to help you to hear your best. If you have hearing loss that is significantly worse in one ear than the other, BiCROS hearing aids may be a good option for you.
BiCROS hearing aids: How they work and who needs them
The term “BiCROS” is an acronym for bilateral microphones with contralateral routing of signal. Essentially, microphones in one ear pick up sound, amplify it so that ear can hear properly, then send the sound over to the other ear’s hearing device so both ears can hear the same levels. Their counterparts are CROS devices. CROS (contralateral routing of signal) devices work best in situations where there is single sided deafness in one ear and adequate hearing in the other. No amplification is necessary, so they’re not the hearing aids you are used to; sounds are simply transferred from the stronger ear to the weaker ear.
BiCROS hearing aids, on the other hand, should be used when amplification is needed in both ears. According to Hearing Aid Know, users wearing these particular devices feel as if their hearing got stronger—it doesn’t feel like they are wearing a device that is doing all the work.
If you are unsure what your hearing levels are, you should take an online hearing test to get a basic outline, or go to your audiologist to complete a more in-depth assessment. The results are called audiograms and can show you levels of hearing loss in each ear. From there, you can determine which type of device will work best for your needs.
What BiCROS hearing aids can do for you
So you want to buy your first pair of BiCROS hearing aids, here’s what you can expect. Overall you’ll be able to hear much better, and you can expect the greatest difference in understanding conversations. One of the issues with differentiated hearing loss in each ear is that the brain has issues decoding incoming sounds to translate them into words. The transmissions cannot quite bounce from ear to ear, so oftentimes the brain relies on the “better ear” for conversations. With a BiCROS device, you won’t struggle to hear or interpret exchanges.
Unfortunately there are some downsides to wearing BiCROS hearing aids. Since there is a transfer of amplified sound, you may experience feedback. To avoid this distraction, make sure your devices properly fit inside your ear and can maintain a bit of suction. The other potential downside is that you may have trouble localizing sound. Just think—when you’re trying to determine where a sound is coming from, you listen from both ears to narrow down the possibilities of direction. If the sound from your hearing aid is coming only from one ear, you may find the narrowing down process more of a challenge.
By: Diana Michel
Sources: Jefferson University, Hearing Aid Know, All Deaf