Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, almost all instances of hearing loss are most effectively managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are curious about the reasons why we have two ears in the first place, then keep on reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with vision.
When we view an image, each eye acquires a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then compute the differences between the two versions to manifest the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—along with height and width—permits us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be significantly compromised.
The benefits of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same pertains to our ears and our hearing. Even though we may not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can usually judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear receives a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted by the brain in a way that reveals location and distance. This enables 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 enhances the quality of sound and increases the range of sounds you can hear.
To test the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in a vehicle, shut off 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 impairment in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider the merits 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 use two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the power to pinpoint 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 significant background noise.
- identify specific voices among many.
- enlarge 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 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 even worse as time passes. This will promptly restrict your ability to enjoy all of the benefits just explained.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the first step is to arrange a hearing test with an experienced hearing specialist. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will discuss 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 most cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will probably highly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to try them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.