Single-Sided Hearing Loss - Hearing Aid Experiences

I have single-sided hearing loss which happened suddenly in 2008 when I turned forty years old (SSNHL, unexplained cause). Severe loss in the right ear; normal hearing in left ear. I was fitted with a single HA (phonak exelia) in my affected ear, and it was helpful but not great for me. Especially in noisy situations; it’s amazing the degree to which the brain requires two “synchronized” ears to distinguish conversation in a noisy room! Amplifying sound in my bad ear wasn’t blending properly with my unassisted good ear; it mostly just added to the cacophony. I bought an FM external mic (circa 2008) for my conversation partners to to wear around their necks at dinner parties; it helped somewhat, but because it was sending the amplified signal to my bad ear, it wasn’t great, and it ended up gathering dust in a drawer.

Eventually, I wore my HA less and less, until I was barely ever using it. Ten years later, I went to see a great audi (Wes Nakamura at Family HA Center in Honolulu) and he told me that my lack of using a HA was probably contributing to my declining ability to distinguish words on my right side-- the neural circuitry for language processing essentially shuts down when you don’t exercise it. “Use it or lose it”, he told me. He listened to my complaints about the HA experience, and he had an interesting idea: why not try a pair instead of just one? Perhaps amplification in my good ear might help? Especially with today’s fancy HAs that can use triangulation of multiple mics and sophisticated signal processing to block out ambient noise and amplify specific voices-- which is not possible with a single HA. And perhaps they have the ability to transmit sound from one side to the other, like a CROS or BICROS…

I was very skeptical, but I agreed to try it: a pair of Marvel Audeo M-90-Rs. We used a smaller dome on the good side, so it would occlude less, and of course, the amplification levels are much lower on the good side. The result: it has made a HUGE difference for me! In programs like “Speech in Loud Noise” and “Speech in 360 - Right”, the mic on the bad side amplifies sound in that ear, but also sends its signal to the HA on the good side, where it mixes with the good side’s own mic feed. For me, the result is much better than with only a single HA. Someone talking to me on my bad side gets amplified in my good ear, just like a CROS or BICROS system.

And when I tried the latest external directional mic technology-- the Roger Select, a half-dollar sized disk that sits on the table or clips to a collar, with 6 mics in a circle that can be individually activated by touching them, sending sound to my good ear was truly astonishing! I could hear my conversation partners perfectly in a noisy restaurant! Unfortunately the M-90’s aren’t yet compatible with the Roger Select, so I only experienced them with a different model of trial HAs, but I’ll be buying the Select as soon as it becomes compatible (hopefully this November).

As an added bonus, the M-90s work like a bluetooth headset with my Android phone; I can take calls and listen to music. As others have posted here: the M90 sound quality on music streaming is absolutely fantastic. Having normal hearing in one ear allows me to enjoy high-fidelity sound, and I can honestly say that I prefer listening to music with my M-90s over my Bose and Etymotics. They have an incredibly detailed, wide soundstage. I had to fine-tune the levels using the Phonak fitting software, but after I got those right, I’ve achieved music nirvana.

I’m sharing this with the hope that others with SSNHL might benefit from trying two HAs. And to remind everyone of how important it is to have a good audi! I can’t thank Wes enough! It really has profoundly improved my life. After barely wearing my single HA for the majority of the past decade, I now wear my beloved M-90s every waking hour :slight_smile: Does anyone else have a similar experience?


I enjoyed reading about your hearing experiences, very informative.
Being able to enjoy communication, music and nature is wonderful thing after not having it.
Thanks for sharing.

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My right ear is pretty much normal compared to my left ear but I wear 2 x hearing aids.

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thank you for your story! It sounds surprisingly like mine, except that I don’t have much high frequency hearing left in my good ear (my left ear.) I, like you, lost virtually all of my hearing in my right ear about 20 years ago. I tried multiple hearing aids, beginning first with just the one in my right ear. Like you, it made it harder to distinguish speech because I had virtually no discrimination in my right ear. So a few years ago I started wearing a hearing aid in my left ear as it definitely needed the help. However, if someone was sitting on my right side, I could hardly hear them. Driving, while my wife sat beside me (on my right, as we are in the US) made it extremely hard to have a conversation with her.

Earlier this year I started trying out various other hearing aids as the current one I was wearing was about 8 years old. I, like you, really love listening to music. I have enough hearing in my right ear so that if I were using headphones, I could at least get a sense of balance of the music as I could at least hear the beats. I tried a Starkey and Widex. While I was trying the Widex, I learned about the Phonak Marvels coming out this year, and something called “amp cros.” This seemed to be exactly what I needed. I got a pair of M90-R’s. My Marvels can pick up sounds on my right, and play those sounds to BOTH hearing aids - to my right to give me some sense of balance, some help with speed discrimination, etc, but ALSO would play the sounds from the right, to my left (better) ear! Finally I could talk with people that were on my right! I don’t use that program very often but it’s wonderful when I need it! It does help with noisy enviroments too. I do think that it’s not completely adjusted correctly as I haven’t had these that long but they are still much, much better than what I had before!

Music? Oh yeah, LOVING the streaming to BOTH ears! Again, I have virtually no discrimination in my right ear, but I do have a sense of balance when streaming music…so nice!

Again, Rex, thank you so much for your post!


I’m a bit late to this party, but I have a very similar history to you (except caused by an Acoustic neuroma). I detailed my experience here: Distortion in RIC/RITE solved (severe unilateral HL, acoustic neuroma)

But my history and solution are almost identical, except I use a BTE with ear hook on the bad side and a slim tube of the good one.

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My granddaughter recently had an ear infection that caused her to lose some hearing on one side. She is about to try hearing aid solutions and I have read a little on Cros to learn enough to be wary.

250 0 / -10

500 0 / -15

1000 0 / -25

2000 -15 / -60

4000 -15 / -70

8000 -15 / -85

I wish my hearing was so good. To complicate matters she is in college and is also a musician. Any advice on a solution, or is it trial an error. An open fit will probably work, but can one aid make her speech recognition in noise better and improve her directionality? The Cros solution seems to complicate things. Does just fitting two regular hearing aids work better than one?

Obviously, I wear two and could not function without them.

Thanks, Phil