Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re searching for the quick answer, then yes, most cases of hearing loss are best treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn 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 vision.
When we observe an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then measure the differences between the two versions to construct the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—coupled with height and width—enables us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capability to perceive depth and distance would be considerably compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Although we may not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can ordinarily 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 recognize how far away and which direction sound is coming from.
In addition to being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also enhances the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To verify the principle of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in a vehicle, turn 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 work together so that our brains can best understand the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the power to determine 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 significant background noise.
- pick out distinct voices among many.
- extend 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).
- Prevent the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last 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 with time. This will quickly restrict your ability to enjoy 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 specialist. After your hearing is tested, your hearing specialist will share 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 the majority of cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will almost certainly suggest binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to try them before you buy—which is a great chance to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.