Ross Wiseman, pastor and avid hiker, struggled to engage with his congregation and enjoy his leisure time after losing his hearing in one ear suddenly. Treating his hearing loss with a Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system was a life-changing experience. Recently, Ross upgraded to the Ponto 5 SuperPower, and in this new testimonial video, shares how much he loves this next-gen technology.
The hair cells of my auditory nerves died over a weekend. Friday night, I felt like my ear was stuffed up. Didn’t feel sick at all. Saturday morning I was fine. Was coaching soccer later that day and it happened again. By evening I was fine. Sunday morning, I preached, went home, and took a nap. When I woke up, I couldn’t hear anymore. I thought maybe I was getting a cold or had an ear infection. I called the ENT. When that visit ended, he told me that I was permanently deaf in my left ear. They scheduled a CAT scan to see if I had a tumor. I did not; it was single-sided deafness (SSD) with no explanation.
For over 10 years I lived unaided and was miserable. I couldn’t hear my wife on dates when we would eat out, or when we hiked. She hikes in front of me and when she would speak it was useless to try and communicate. I struggled to enjoy watching tv with my kids or hear at events like ball games. Teaching would make me sick to my stomach as I had to turn my head back and forth to try and hear everyone at the table or in the room). I would often sit with others and just smile because I was lost by the conversations that were going around me. I never could tell what anyone was saying, so it created a disconnect.
When I got my first Ponto, we had our church’s tenth anniversary party. I had so many people come to me who had been with me before I went deaf and say it felt good to have their pastor back. I was out in the open talking to everyone rather than in a corner with one person talking. I was also smiling a lot because I was engaged. I didn’t realize that, during those noisy events, I used to zone out and my face showed it. My Ponto changed everything!
If your audiologist doesn’t use Oticon Medical devices, demand that they reach out to Oticon Medical or find an audiologist who will. I was my doctor’s first Ponto user and implant surgery. Oticon Medical was amazing in sending them a product representative, and when it was time, a surgical rep to explain minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS). Now the majority of their patients who need a bone anchored option go with a Ponto.
Many people think—incorrectly—that living with unilateral (single-sided or SSD) hearing loss wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, you have another ear through which you can hear, right? What they don’t consider is that being unable to hear much or at all through one ear not only impacts your ability to locate the direction from which sounds are coming, but also challenges your ability to keep up with conversations, especially in noisy environments. Fortunately, while there is no cure currently for the majority of single-sided deafness cases, there are effective treatments available that can make life with SSD easier.
What causes a loss of hearing in one ear?
There are multiple reasons why you might experience a loss of hearing in only one ear, including the following:
Microtia/Atresia. Microtia often affects only one ear, leaving you with either a small portion of your pinna (outer ear) or none at all. Microtia is often coupled with Atresia, which is an absence of a functional ear canal.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). This can occur with no warning in as little as a day or two. The cause is usually unknown, but if you catch it quickly and seek emergency treatment, it can often be treated and completely cleared up. The spontaneous rate of recovery without treatment is about 60 percent. However, for those 40 percent who don’t receive treatment within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, the loss can become complete and permanent.
Injury to the eardrum. Various physical injuries can cost you part or all of the hearing in one ear. Examples include damaging your eardrum while scuba diving or inserting a cotton swab too deeply. Also being close on one side to an extremely loud noise (e.g., a gun firing) could damage the irreplaceable stereocilia (hair cells) required to process sound.
Acoustic neuroma. This noncancerous tumor can develop on the vestibular nerve, which runs from your inner ear to your brain. Damage to branches of this nerve, either from the tumor itself or due to the surgery required to remove it, can permanently impede hearing.
Certain diseases sometimes affect only one ear, including measles, mumps, and meningitis, among others.
How single-sided hearing loss interferes with life
Engaging in conversations. If you have SSD, you might find yourself having to strategically position your “good” ear toward others in order to keep up with conversations. And if you happen to be in a noisy environment like a crowded bar with a group of friends, the struggle to keep up with multiple conversations can quickly become exhausting.
Locating where a sound is coming from. This can be merely an inconvenience if, for example, someone is calling your name and it takes you several seconds to turn your head in the right direction to respond. However, it could pose a safety risk if you’re walking across the street, riding a bicycle, or driving a car and you cannot quickly determine from which direction a siren or similar warning is coming.
Gauging volume is challenging. The brain is constructed to process sound as perceived by two ears at the same time. When only one ear is functional, it tends to process the incoming sound at a lower volume, which makes adjusting the television or a stereo to a comfortable volume for yourself and anyone else in the room with binaural hearing problematic.
Balance issues. You might experience difficulty maintaining your balance, particularly if you have had SSD since birth. Studies¹ have found that those with unilateral hearing loss must depend more on their vision to maintain balance if their SSD also affects the vestibular portion of their inner ear.
Treatment options for SSD
Fortunately, effective treatments are available to improve the lives of people troubled by single-sided hearing loss. These include contralateral routing of signal (CROS) and bilateral contralateral routing of signal (BiCROS) hearing aids and bone anchored hearing system implants. When it comes to the former, you have to wear a hearing aid on both ears so that the aid on your deaf side can route sound to the aid on your hearing side wirelessly. If your hearing ear is at 100 percent, then you would choose a CROS option, which means the aid on your good ear would simply be a receiver. However, if you have some hearing loss in that ear as well, the BiCROS aid worn on the better ear can be programmed to provide additional amplification.
Many people with SSD would prefer not to have to wear two hearing aids or they find that CROS/BiCROS devices are not effective enough for their needs. That’s where a bone conduction device like the Ponto™ comes in. Those who opt for an implantable solution often comment that they can’t believe how much sound they were missing out on and how it takes far less effort to hear and keep up with speech, especially in noise. Even those who have only ever heard out of one ear frequently benefit from a bone anchored hearing solution for single-sided deafness.
If you are hard of hearing on one side or have outer or middle ear problems, Ponto may be the solution for you. Ponto uses the body’s natural ability to transfer sound through bone conduction, and it can provide the support you need to participate more easily in daily life with less listening effort.
Are you ready to take the next step? We can help you find a clinic close to home where you can get all the answers you need regarding Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS), and more. You can also always contact Oticon Medical directly at 888.277.8014 or at [email protected].
¹Snapp HA, Ausili SA. Hearing with One Ear: Consequences and Treatments for Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020; 9(4):1010. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041010
As a specialist in the ear, Dr. Benecke is consistently recognized on “The Best Doctors in America” list. He and his team offer a full array of diagnostic evaluations for hearing and vestibular (balance) disorders. They provide medical and surgical care of pediatric and adult patients with ear diseases, dizziness & balance disorders, as well as issues with the temporal bone, skull base, and related structures.
Maybe you’ve heard from those who have made the switch from a different bone anchored hearing system to a Ponto. Maybe you’ve seen the data on how the Ponto Plus offers the best Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) sound quality possible, and you’ve been thinking of upgrading your Ponto for a while.
You’ve been thinking about it, now what’s next?
First, it’s important that you have access to all of the information that will help you decide. Below, we’ve created a list of upgrade information that will equip you with what you need to know about leveling-up to the Ponto Plus—whether it’s from a different bone anchored hearing system, or you’re moving from an older Ponto model on up. You’ll find user stories about experiences upgrading, more about the upgrade process, Ponto product and accessory information and more.
You may have seen our new page where you can sign up to get help making an appointment with a hearing care professional in your area. We wanted to take a minute to explain why Oticon Medical offers this service, and what it can do for you or someone you know who’s on the journey of finding the best hearing solution possible.
When most people start searching for hearing solutions, what they don’t realize is that all clinics don’t offer all of the available solutions. In fact, in some cases, people don’t even know what their options are. They only know what the clinic has offered them. From people who weren’t aware of bone anchored hearing solutions at all, to those who thought only one type of bone anchored hearing solution existed, we hear from a lot of people who have been in this situation. If this is your case, you’re not alone!
Like most technology, there’s a lot of conversation around the value of making the leap from one product to another—whether it’s moving to the most recently released product within the same brand, or making a larger change by switching from one manufacturer to another. Your hearing, and quality of life, is at stake.
That’s something we take extremely seriously. So, we wanted to give you a more intimate view into why to consider a bone anchored hearing system upgrade and how to go about getting a new bone anchored hearing system.
What’s an upgrade?
First things first, what is considered an upgrade? There are two different types of upgrades: An upgrade from one Ponto model to another—i.e. switching from the Ponto Pro to the Ponto Plus. And, the second, a change from one device provider to another.
An independent study tested the Ponto against similar bone anchored sound processors, and findings show that two out of three prefer the Ponto.
While this is terminology that we use, we checked in with community members to see if this makes sense from a bone anchored hearing-user perspective too.
“I usually call both upgrades. And if it’s to a different brand, I say something like, ‘for this upgrade, I switched to…’” – Katie Maslar
“I went from the BP110 Power, to the Ponto Plus Power…that was an upgrade, lol! But, in all seriousness…my insurance calls it an upgrade.” – Nancy Smith Oberman
A couple of months ago we held the first ever Oticon Medical Patient Advocacy Workshop. While events in the past have focused on gathering and getting to know each other, this event focused on bettering the experience for those who need or will need bone anchored hearing systems in the future.
The top concern included education for those who were experiencing the world of bone anchored hearing for the fist time. Ponto wearers and families shared that they felt frustrated at the beginning of their journey, because they didn’t get all of the information they needed outright— it took research, time and, in many cases, probing to get answers from professionals. The statement “I wish I would have known what questions to ask” is something that we heard from the group more than once. Kelley Dwyer, an Audiologist who joined our group along with her brother Derek, who got his Ponto Plus and the Ponto Streamer earlier this year, also mentioned that it’d be helpful for Audiologists if patients had more access to information and a set of questions too.
Many people in the group mentioned that they didn’t know that there were options when it came to choosing a bone anchored hearing device. For some, it took years to make the realization and in some cases, it lead to surgery for a new abutment to make a switch.
We’re working to fulfill the needs we uncovered and develop the ideas the group had from the workshop. Today, we’re asking for your help to bring one of those ideas to life.
Ponto Wearer Kris Siwek Gives— and Gets— the Ultimate Gift
Kris Siwek is a Ponto wearer and advocate that we know well. Kris suddenly lost her hearing after being diagnosed with a tumor at age 29. Kris, pregnant at the time, did intense research to find the best solution for her survival and recovery— from her acoustic neuroma removal to finding the right hearing solution. Kris actively shares her story and advocates for those with acoustic neuromas and hearing loss.
When we spoke with Kris last week, we could see her face light up when she mentioned her donated Ponto would go to a 7-month-old through Ear Community. Heres’ more about that 7-month-old, Clark. As Kris put it, “It’s just so perfect.”
“In April of 2014, Max and Melissa Witt gave birth to a beautiful sweet baby boy named Clark. When Clark was born, he was originally diagnosed with having Goldenhar Syndrome and Hemifacial Microsomia. Clark was also born without his left ear due to having Microtia and a missing ear canal due to having Atresia, resulting in hearing loss,” Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community writes in the original piece about the story on Ear Community. “Clark’s parents did everything they could to provide him with proper healthcare prenatally. They had level 2 ultrasounds, genetic screenings, even a fetal echocardiogram… However, it wasn’t until Clark was almost 2.5 months old (after birth) when Clark’s doctors discovered that his heart had a double aortic arch. Clark underwent heart surgery at just 5 months of age to fix his heart.” Continue reading →
Educating teachers and children on the importance of using FM systems in the classroom came up many times at our Patient Advocacy Workshop. Here’s a great video by St. John’s Medical Center that does just that. This is a great tool that shows the difference a FM system can make for a child with hearing loss. Share it with your children and their teachers.
Kevin Hotaling is a sophomore at Stonehill College who got his Ponto Plus on October 13, 2014. When we saw Kevin’s video, we just had to meet him. We knew you’d feel the same.
So, here’s Kevin to tell you a bit of his story:
I originally found out about Ponto through one of my mother’s coworkers. She didn’t have the Ponto, but she had a very similar bone anchored hearing aid procedure done, and she’s had results that were nothing short of stellar. I was nervous originally. Although surgery was nothing new to me, the idea of someone drilling into my skull was very unsettling. In addition to that, I hadn’t heard of any people my age who had ever gotten the procedure done. I had only ever heard of adults and small children owning the system, never a teenager. I was given the opportunity to test the device using a headband, and immediately, I noticed a massive difference in my hearing quality.