Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the quick answer, then yes, most instances of hearing loss are best treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are wondering about why we have two ears in the first place, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with vision.
When we observe an image, each eye acquires a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then compute the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—in addition to height and width—makes it possible for us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be substantially affected.
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 generally 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 interpreted by the brain in a way that signifies location and distance. This enables 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 assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and expands the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To check the theory of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in a vehicle, shut off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly think about the merits of getting fitted with one lens.
So when our hearing instrument 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 interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capacity to pinpoint 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 substantial 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 tiring.
- listen to sounds without the abnormal feeling of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Prevent the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last 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 worse over 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 a qualified hearing professional. Shortly after your hearing is tested, your hearing instrument specialist will share 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 instrument specialist will almost certainly suggest 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.