Guide to CROS Hearing Aids
- The CROS hearing aid is the device of choice for unilateral deafness. It works by transmitting sounds from the non-hearing side to the hearing side.
- Pros of a CROS hearing aid include ease of use, fewer feedback issues, and a non-invasive way to correct conductive hearing loss.
- Cons of a CROS hearing aid may include high cost, short battery life, possible issues with sound quality, and amplified background noise
What is a CROS Hearing Aid?
A Contralateral Routing of Signals (CROS) hearing aid is used in cases of unilateral or single-sided deafness. If you have unilateral hearing loss, sounds have to travel around your head to your hearing ear in order for you to hear them. This may make you miss sounds in your environment, or lose your sense of direction because you think a sound is farther away from where it is actually coming from.
A CROS hearing aid helps by using the ear with better hearing to interpret the sounds from the ear with poorer hearing. It features a microphone on the non-hearing side, and the system transmits the sounds contralaterally – that is, to the other side, where the hearing is better. Thus, a CROS hearing aid allows the patient to hear from both sides, although it does not restore full hearing.
This is different from the BiCROS system (Bilateral Microphones with Contralateral Routing of Signals), which is also used when both ears have hearing loss but one ear can hear better than the other. The BiCROS system features microphones on both ears to amplify the sounds, and sends the signals from both sides to the ear with stronger hearing.
CROS hearing aids are commonly behind-the-ear (BTE) or in-the-ear styles. Sound is wirelessly transmitted from the non-hearing side to the hearing side.
Pros of a CROS Hearing Aid
Here are some of the benefits to using a CROS hearing aid:
- Ease of use. Just turn your device on and you’ll be able to hear from both sides of your head! It’s quick, simple, and discreet.
- Sensitive microphone. The microphone of the CROS hearing aid is very sensitive and can pick up critical sounds in your environment. This allows you to drive or function in the workplace without missing sounds that signal importance or danger.
- Fewer feedback issues. Unlike traditional hearing aids or BI-CROS hearing aids, CROS hearing aids produce fewer transmissions, thus reducing feedback problems.
- Non-invasive. If your hearing loss occurs due to problems with the structures that conduct sound (known as conductive hearing loss), surgery is often done to correct the problem permanently. However, if you are unable to undergo surgery, a CROS hearing aid can be an adequate alternative solution.
Cons of a CROS Hearing Aid
Of course, no system is completely perfect. Here are some issues you may encounter when using a CROS hearing aid:
- Cost. CROS hearing aids can be pricey. Don’t just buy the first CROS hearing aid you come across; consult with an audiologist to find the hearing aid that’s the right fit for your budget.
- Short battery life. The CROS system demands a lot of power, so there may be frequent battery changes with a CROS hearing aid. However, this technology is improving.
- Issues with sound quality. If the source of the sound is too far, it might sound choppy or staticky. Meanwhile, in closer but noisier environments, you may have trouble pinpointing the source of a sound, as the audio that comes into the CROS system is blended together.
- Amplified noise. As the microphone of your CROS is quite sensitive, the system must be programmed properly to prevent amplifying background noise.
CROS Hearing Aid Brand Reviews
Here are some brands you can look at if you’re in the market for CROS hearing aids:
Phonak’s CROS II hearing aid operates via Phonak’s Venture technology, which automatically detects what listening situation you are faced with and switches to the optimal setting to allow you to understand speech in noisy environments, while driving, and while outdoors.
Widex offers CROS hearing aids in their DREAM, UNIQUE, and EVOKE lines. WIDEX hearing aids promise excellent sound quality minus echoes and distortion, and extra-long battery life.
Starkey’s Muse line of hearing aids is for people with unilateral deafness. The Muse CROS System is equipped with Acuity Directionality to help you hear in noisy or challenging listening situations, Advanced Multiflex Tinnitus Technology, and sound comfort technology to allow you to listen to both loud and soft sounds without distortion.
Is a CROS Hearing Aid Right For You?
If you are experiencing unilateral deafness and are searching for a simple, non-invasive solution, then a CROS hearing aid might be just the thing to help.
To find out if a CROS hearing aid is right for you, fill out the form below and we’ll connect you with an audiologist near you for a free hearing screening.
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