Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, the majority of instances of hearing loss are ideally managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are curious about why we have two ears in the first place, then continue reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with eyesight.
When we observe an image, each eye receives a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then analyze the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—together with height and width—allows us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be considerably affected.
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 frequently determine both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear receives a slightly different version of each sound, and those differences are translated by the brain in a way that reveals location and distance. This allows us to hear in three dimensions, so that we know how far away and which direction sound is coming from.
Along with being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To test the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, turn 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 loss 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 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 capacity to identify the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- focus on speech during a conversation even with significant 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 exhausting.
- listen to sounds without the abnormal sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Prevent the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last point is significant. If you have hearing loss in both ears but use only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become even worse over time. This will promptly limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you think you have hearing loss, the first step is to schedule a hearing exam with a qualified 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 to you 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 probably highly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.