Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are ideally managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to know why, or are curious about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with eyesight.
When we view an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two copies to attain the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—together with height and width—enables us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be greatly compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we may not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can normally 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 signifies location and distance. This permits us to hear in three dimensions, so that we know how far away and which direction sound is originating from.
Along with being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also enhances the quality of sound and enhances the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To check the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in the car, shut 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 loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly think about 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 persuaded 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 capacity to identify the exact location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with substantial background noise.
- pick out specific voices among many.
- enlarge the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less exhausting.
- listen to sounds without the unnatural feeling of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Avoid the weakening 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 restrict your ability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you think you have hearing loss, the first step is to arrange a hearing assessment with a qualified 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 likely recommend 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.