Asymmetrical hearing aid advice needed

Hello! I have had hearing issues since I was a few months old due to a bout of meningitis.I had my first pair of hearing aids (Phonaks, I think) over 20 years ago when I was 10 years old. I ended up losing them and haven’t worn anything since (I am now 32).

At long last I went in for a hearing test about a month ago and am finally starting to do some research into what is available (and the advancements have been amazing since my first pair, wow!)

Anyways, some questions…
Since my word recognition score in my left ear is low, is there a possibility that this may improve with time and usage of aids, or will they mainly help with amplification only? The sounds I do hear in my left ear, generally sound muffled and voices sound as if I am underwater listening to someone talk.

Also, are there any aids that would best fit this sort of hearing loss?

Don’t want to be a downer…

but your left ear is done as far as speech understanding. When speech discrim gets below 50% it’s a coin toss. At 30% there’s probably not much hope of getting it back, and sometimes, an aid that can amplify enough can cause discomfort, or drag your binaural (both ears) speech discrimination scores down.

I would trial both, then trial a CROS system and see how it turns out.

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Eric is pretty much right. Some people will notice improved understanding when an ear like you left starts getting stimulation. I would try binaural with the stipulation that you can move to a bicros or monaural fitting if amplification does not prove satisfactory in the left. After the first week or two of wearing both all the time, try just the right and then both then just the right. You should get a pretty good feel for any binaural benefit in understanding and also sense of direction. I have had some patients that the sense of direction alone was enough for them to want binaural. If you like it enough to keep both after a few weeks, there is a pretty fair chance the left will get better word recognition over time as the brain relearns what to do with the sound.


That’s pretty smart, thanks for sharing.
Both my ears are tested at 12% word recognition. Pulling an aid and testing has really helped me with tuning the aids.


Your right ear is better than many. No shock that you do “OK” without. WRS is fine. And it would be easy to bring up volume and flatten the peak with modern HAs, get a more “natural” sound and better interaction with people.

Taking the best of each ear (as your brain does), it’s all in a 30HL-55HL range. Could be better, could be a lot worse.

Your left ear has the bass the right ear is weak on. It does not need an occluding mold to hear the low-pitch vowels.

As an old sound guy, I’d be inclined to mix both sides to mono and feed both ears. You would not have to turn to put a talker on your right side. (Drawback is you lose the directionality you now have.) Your brain can integrate bass=left treb=right fairly easily. I’m not sure what HA allows a mono-mix, or how you find a fitter who “gets it”.

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Something I would like to pass on to the OP.
You have been given some tuff information that may well be true. The pros are probably right in everything they have told you. But, it is possible with properly fit hearing aids worn all the time you can relearn speech and improve your word recognition. A few members on this forum have done this to beat the odds about word recognition scores. Others have not, everyone is different.
Good luck


I’ve got asymmetrical Hearing Loss.

I find my better ear picks up a lot more noise and I find it harder to hear speech. My poor ear works very well with a hearing aid.


There is no question about your 33% word clarity on the left, however, I wouldn’t write it off just yet.

All brains prefer symmetry and so there are things that you can do to get that feeling back. Ideally you would want to have a binaural speech word test and perhaps even a QuickSIN done to see what happens when words are presented binaurally and what happens in increasingly noisy situations. This will help determine the parameters which would make for a good fitting.

Binaural amplification is one way or, you can have what is known as ‘Amp CrOS’ set up so that you can get a sensation of balanced hearing and sounds from the left can be routed to the right.

That’s what I would recommend.

Good luck.

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You’ve been unaided for 22 years and have reverse slope in the right and no aidable hearing beyond 1.5 kHz in the left. Chances are, getting used to hearing aids is going to be a significant journey for you. Just go ahead with any modern hearing aid in a style that works for you at a price level that is affordable for you. All of the big companies make good hearing aids. All of them are likely going to be a challenge to get used to.

As a new user taking a big step, I’d encourage you to trust your professional’s recommendation this time and not spend too much worry digging into small features of different hearing aids that don’t make a huge difference anyway. Leave that for your next set. Just getting something right now will be a big enough step on its own.


Thank you! Not a downer at all as I suspected that clarity may never be there. I’ve never known what it’s like to be able to really hear and understand in that ear, so any improvement at all would be a pleasant surprise.

I had not considered the fact that overdoing the amplification could bring my scores down, but it is something I will definitely pay attention to as I move forward

Thank you for the suggestions! I will definitely trial them with the alternations you suggested. I

I have never had much directional hearing, which I never actually realized until a coworker years ago with hearing loss mentioned that she does not. I finally realized why I had problems with games that need you to hear where a sound is coming from to progress haha!

Yes. No one realized I even had a problem until kindergarten when my teacher noticed I was reading her lips a LOT.

Thank you for the suggestion. I am not sure that this is a thing either, but can ask when I start trialing.

That’s great! I am not expecting miracles, and it’s something I never had to be able to fully understand and “miss” so any improvement at all in that ear would be a bonus for me. :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing your experience.

My memory now about the whole experience is fuzzy now, but I think this may have been my problem with my hearing aids as a kid and why I didn’t wear them religiously as I should have.

That and they were so thick back then coupled with glasses, they really hurt!

Knowing more and being more mature now, I can actually work with my provider and give better feedback to find a combination that works for me, I think

Thank you for this. I did not do a binaural test or QuickSIN, only a test with single words + increasing levels of background static until they were no longer intelligible.

The AMP CrOS set up sounds like it may be very promising. I will definitely bring this up to my provider!

I do tend to over analyze and research when I’m looking at any new piece of technology (phones, cars, computers, etc).

I have no insurance right now so I am trying to save up and will likely be a bit limited in my choices to start off. You’re right though. I will just dive in with what I can get for now, and once I have a feel for them, I can think about what “extras” I might desire down the road. I may end up having to go with a Costco selection due to price point, but worry that this could put me off for a while if I don’t have a good fitter.

Thank you for your advice!