Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are ideally managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are curious about why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we view an image, each eye receives a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then analyze the differences between the two copies to establish the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—together with height and width—allows us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capability to perceive depth and distance would be substantially affected.
The benefits of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same pertains to our ears and our hearing. Even though we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can usually 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 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.
In combination with being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To check the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in the car, shut off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Advantages of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision impairment in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider 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 convinced to get fitted with two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best decipher the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capability to pinpoint the precise location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- concentrate on speech during a discussion even with substantial background noise.
- identify specific 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).
- Avoid the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last 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 over time. This will promptly restrict your capability to achieve all of the benefits just described.
If you think you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing examination with an experienced 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 to 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 case, your hearing specialist will probably 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 assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.