Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the short answer, then yes, the majority of cases of hearing loss are ideally treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are wondering about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we look at an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—in combination with height and width—permits us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be considerably affected.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can normally determine both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear obtains a slightly different version of each sound, and those differences are translated by the brain in a way that indicates location and distance. This enables us to hear in three dimensions, so that we recognize how far away and which direction sound is originating from.
In addition to being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To verify the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, shut off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor informs us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly think about the merits of getting fitted with one lens.
So when our hearing specialist tells us that we have hearing loss in both ears, why do we need to be persuaded to get fitted with two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears work together so that our brains can best decipher the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capacity to establish the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- concentrate on speech during a conversation even with significant background noise.
- pick out specific voices among many.
- extend the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less exhausting.
- listen to sounds without the unnatural sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Avoid the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That final point is important. If you have hearing loss in both ears but use only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse as time passes. This will quickly limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just described.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing assessment with a qualified hearing professional. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will share the results with you in a chart known as an audiogram.
The audiogram will reveal if you have hearing loss in one or both ears, but the majority of cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will likely recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.