Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, then yes, almost all instances of hearing loss are most effectively managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are interested about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we look at an image, each eye acquires a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then analyze the differences between the two versions to develop the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—in addition to height and width—helps us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be severely affected.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same phenomenon pertains to our ears and our hearing. Although we may not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can in most cases judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear obtains a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted by the brain in a way that reveals location and distance. This permits us to hear in three dimensions, so that we know how far away and which direction sound is originating from.
On top of being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and increases the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To check the principle 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 impairment in both eyes, we don’t honestly think about the benefits of getting fitted with one lens.
So when our hearing specialist informs us that we have hearing loss in both ears, why do we need to be persuaded to use two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best understand the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capability to determine the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a conversation even with substantial background noise.
- pick out distinct voices among many.
- increase the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less tiring.
- listen to sounds without the unnatural sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Prevent the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last point is important. If you have hearing loss in both ears but wear only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse as time passes. This will quickly limit your capability to enjoy all of the benefits just described.
If you think you have hearing loss, the first step is to arrange a hearing test with a qualified hearing specialist. Shortly after your hearing is tested, your hearing specialist will share the results with you in a chart known as an audiogram.
The audiogram will show you if you have hearing loss in one or both ears, but most cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the situation, your hearing specialist will likely recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to try them before you buy—which is a great chance to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.