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Ask Anna: What is the best hearing solution for otosclerosis?

Ask Anna is a weekly advice column for the hearing loss community. 
Dear Anna,
I had a head injury 11 years ago and I lost hearing on my right ear, then I as fitted with a BAHA and even though it helped some, I certainly could not follow a conversation without rotating to my good side. Unfortunately my good ear is starting to go due to otosclerosis. For this reason I was fitted with a Phonak Cross II and Audeo V50. I still struggle quite a bit and I have become more anti social and tense when in crowded environments. My job, in the film industry, requires me to be surrounded with people in a noisy set all day long and I’ve become very uptight and self conscious about my limitation. I used to be at the top of my game 10 years ago and I feel I’m sliding to a very mediocre place. 

Can you please give me some advise? Are there support groups? Would getting a more expensive hearing aid help me in my work environment? Is it worth exploring some kind of government support, disability? I live in Santa Monica, CA and I am 45 years old. Thank you so much. – Mariana in California  
Hi Mariana,
I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling in your work environment.
The first thing I would recommend is to get your hearing retested, as it could be that there have been some changes in your hearing. With Oto-sclerosis it is hard to predict  what will happen, sometimes the hearing will remain stable for many years and sometimes changes will occur more quickly this might be why you are not getting the benefit you need from the Phonak CROS system with the Phonak Audéo V 50 hearing aid. 
You do not mention if any kind of surgical option has been discussed? Sometimes this is an option for Oto-sclerosis but I am guessing that because you have no hearing in the other ear this is too great a risk, as restored or improved hearing cannot be guaranteed.
In your question, you also say that you spend a lot of time in noisy environments.  These types of environments are especially difficult for someone with no hearing on one side and a hearing loss on the other.
The Audéo V 50 could be upgraded to either an  Audéo V 70 or Audéo V 90 as these devices have more sophisticated  speech in noise management technology. The main difference between the 70 and the 90 is that the Audéo V 90 will switch automatically into the Speech in Loud noise program when needed whereas you will have to manually select this with an Audéo V 70 hearing aid.
Evidence has shown that there are benefits hearing speech in noisy environments with this feature activated.
Another option for work could be a wireless accessory like a ComPilot II or the Roger Pen as both are compatible with an Audéo V 50. There are many different types of solutions that could help in a work environment and you would have to decide with your audiologist what the best solution for your needs would be.
I am based in Switzerland and I do not know if there is government assistance available to help you in the state of California but your Audiologist should know. (If anyone else reading this reply knows if this is possible please add a comment to help Mariana.)
I hope that you are able to find some kind of option to help you and please get back to me if you have further questions!
– Anna

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Author Details
Anna is currently the Senior Audiology Manager at Phonak. She has worked in the field of audiology and hearing aids for 25 years, and is passionate about all things audiology.