Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, then yes, the majority of instances of hearing loss are ideally managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are curious 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 view an image, each eye acquires a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then measure the differences between the two versions to produce the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—in combination with height and width—allows us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capability 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 might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can generally 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 translated by the brain in a way that indicates 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.
In combination with being able to evaluate depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and enhances the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To check the concept 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 impairment in both eyes, we don’t seriously think about 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 persuaded to get fitted with two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best understand the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capability to pinpoint the exact location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- concentrate on speech during a discussion even with heavy background noise.
- identify distinct voices among many.
- extend 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).
- Avoid the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last point is important. If you have hearing loss in both ears but wear only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse as time passes. This will quickly limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just described.
If you think you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing test with an experienced hearing specialist. 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 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 case, your hearing specialist will almost certainly highly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be given the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great chance to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.