Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are most effectively managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are wondering about the reasons why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we view an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two versions to create the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—coupled with height and width—makes it possible for us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be highly affected.
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 in most cases determine both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear receives a slightly different copy of each sound, and those variations are translated by the brain in a way that indicates location and distance. This permits 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 assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and increases the range of sounds you can hear.
To test the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in a vehicle, turn 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 work together so that our brains can best decipher the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capacity to establish the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with significant background noise.
- identify distinct voices among many.
- enhance 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 worse with time. This will quickly limit your ability to enjoy all of the benefits just described.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to schedule a hearing exam with an experienced hearing professional. Shortly 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 most 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 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.