Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, the majority of cases of hearing loss are most effectively managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are curious about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then keep on reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with eyesight.
When we observe an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two versions to manifest the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—along with height and width—enables us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be significantly 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 generally judge 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 reveals 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.
Along with being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also enhances the quality of sound and increases the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To verify the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, disable both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider 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 convinced to get fitted with two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears work together so that our brains can best interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capability to determine the exact location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with significant background noise.
- pick out specific voices among many.
- enlarge the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less exhausting.
- listen to sounds without the abnormal feeling of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Avoid the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That final point is significant. If you have hearing loss in both ears but wear only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse over time. This will quickly restrict your ability to achieve all of the benefits just described.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to schedule 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 demonstrate 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 situation, your hearing specialist will most likely highly 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.