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Hearing Loss in One Ear; What Are My Options?

Profound hearing loss in one ear with normal or near normal hearing in the other ear is referred to as Single Sided Deafness (SSD). This type of hearing loss can occur suddenly from a viral infection or it may occur gradually over time as a result of various ear disorders such as Menieres Disease. Whatever the cause, hearing with only one ear presents unique struggles and can often lead to a decreased quality of life.

Our bodies are designed with two ears for important reasons:

  • Improved ability to understand speech amongst competing noise such as talking with a family member while the television is on in the next room
  • Localization, or knowing where sound is coming from
  • Improved access to sound; the volume naturally increases when the brain hears with two ears so decreased volume makes it more difficult to detect sound around you
  • Easier listening: when one ear is doing all the listening this places a higher workload on the brain, leading to increased fatigue and can lead to less enjoyment in conversation and willingness to participate in social activities

Often, a hearing aid does little to improve the clarity of speech for those with SSD creating frustration for hearing aid users and their families. A CROS hearing aid may be a good option for those looking for awareness of sound on their deafened side but it will not address the difficulties listed above.

A cochlear implant is a device that bypasses the damaged portion of the inner ear responsible for stimulating the hearing nerve to deliver sound to the brain in a much more effective way. With time, the brain uses this information to understand speech.

The biggest barrier for those with SSD has historically been insurance coverage. Unfortunately, despite years of clinical and anecdotal research proving the benefits of a cochlear implant for those with SSD, many insurance companies still view a cochlear implant as an option only for people with profound hearing loss in both ears. Luckily, the cochlear implant manufactures are making strides in working towards more consistent coverage of cochlear implants for people with SSD. They are doing so by applying for and obtaining FDA approval.

Med El and most recently Cochlear Americas both have FDA approval for the use of cochlear implants as treatment for adults with profound hearing loss in one ear and normal to near normal hearing in the other ear. This is exciting progress as we work towards providing greater access to better hearing for those with SSD.

If you have profound hearing loss in one ear and would like to learn more about your options please give our office a call at 904-399-0350 to schedule an appointment.

Three-Time Olympic Medalist Opens Up About Her Son’s Experience with Cochlear Implants

Elana Meyers Taylor, who made headlines competing in her fourth Olympics in Beijing, recently opened up about parenting her young son, who was born with special needs.

The five-time Olympic medalist gave birth to her son Nico at the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. After receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome, her and her husband began prepping for the various therapies Nico would need once he left the hospital NICU, which included physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and even music therapy. He was eventually diagnosed with profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, for which he received cochlear implants shortly before the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

She spoke about the procedure with Olympics.com, saying, “When Nico received his cochlear implants, the major surgery exhausted us all but none more than Nico. It was quite a process for the surgery and recovery- but Nico handled it like a champ! Definitely had to miss a few training sessions for that, but I wouldn’t take back his ability to hear through cochlear implants for anything.”

Nico has made significant progress since his activation, with his mother noting “What’s really amazing is seeing how his language has blossomed, especially as he interacts with the US Bobsled team. He waves and laughs and smiles at our teammates, and he’s getting closer to speaking (outside of mama and dada which he already says) every day and I can’t help but be extremely thankful for the US team’s role in this.”

Read the entire article here: https://olympics.com/en/news/elana-meyers-taylor-blog

Hearing with Two Ears

Our bodies are designed with two ears for many important reasons. Listening with two ears:

  • Leads to better understanding in background noise
  • Allows for improved ability to detect where sound is coming from and
  • Gives speech a “boost” in volume

In addition, listening with two ears lessens the amount of work it takes the brain to understand speech and can lead to an improved quality of life. 

For people whose hearing loss is severe, two hearing aids may not be very helpful. However, research, anecdotal evidence and experience tells us that using a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other ear can improve clarity of speech, even more so than using just one cochlear implant. 

This has been demonstrated over and over to the point where two cochlear implant companies have partnered with hearing aid companies to create compatibility between the cochlear implant and hearing aid. This not only leads to the great benefits discussed above but also allows streaming of phone calls and other media to both ears at the same and easier access to program or volume changes.

To learn more about your hearing aid and/or cochlear implant options, give our office a call at 904-399-0350 for a hearing evaluation.