Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are best managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are curious about exactly why we have two ears in the first place, then continue reading.
The Benefits 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 compute the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—along with height and width—allows us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be immensely compromised.
The benefits of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Although we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can typically judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear obtains a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted by the brain in a way that signifies location and distance. This allows us to hear in three dimensions, so that we recognize how far away and which direction sound is originating from.
In combination with being able to evaluate depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To verify the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, disable 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 tells 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 ability to identify the exact location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with substantial 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).
- Prevent the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last point is important. 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 limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to schedule a hearing examination with an experienced hearing specialist. Shortly after your hearing is examined, 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 probably suggest binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to try them before you buy—which is a great chance to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.