Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the quick answer, then yes, the majority of cases of hearing loss are most effectively treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are wondering about why we have two ears to begin with, then keep on reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with vision.
When we view an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then compute the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—along with height and width—enables us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be substantially compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same phenomenon applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can usually judge 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.
On top of being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves 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 listening to music in the car, disable 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 consider the merits 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 get fitted with 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 determine the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a conversation even with substantial background noise.
- pick out distinct voices among many.
- enhance the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less tiring.
- listen to sounds without the abnormal feeling of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Avoid the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That final point is important. 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 with time. This will quickly restrict your ability to achieve 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 examined, your hearing specialist will discuss 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 most likely suggest binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.