Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, then yes, the majority of cases of hearing loss are ideally treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are interested about the reasons why we have two ears in the first place, then continue reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with eyesight.
When we observe 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 attain the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—along with height and width—helps us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be highly compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same 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 obtains a slightly different version of each sound, and those variations are interpreted by the brain in a way that reveals 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.
Together with being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and increases the range of sounds you can hear.
To check the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in the car, turn off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Advantages of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor informs us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider the merits 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 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 precise location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with heavy background noise.
- identify specific voices among many.
- increase 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 use only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become even worse over time. This will quickly restrict your ability to enjoy all of the benefits just explained.
If you think you have hearing loss, the initial step is to schedule a hearing test with an experienced hearing specialist. 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 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 almost certainly suggest binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great chance to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.