Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the short answer, then yes, most 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 receives a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then analyze the differences between the two versions to produce the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—combined with height and width—makes it possible for us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capability to perceive depth and distance would be highly compromised.
The benefits 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 receives a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted by the brain in a way that reveals location and distance. This allows 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 heightens the quality of sound and enhances the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To test the principle of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in a vehicle, 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 seriously 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 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 pinpoint the exact location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with significant background noise.
- identify distinct 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 abnormal sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Prevent 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 promptly restrict your capability to enjoy all of the benefits just described.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the first step is to arrange a hearing examination with a qualified 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 the majority of cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will likely highly recommend 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.