Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the short answer, then yes, most cases of hearing loss are most effectively treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to know why, or are curious about exactly why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we look at an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then calculate the differences between the two versions to manifest the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—together with height and width—helps us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be substantially compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we may not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can frequently judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear obtains a slightly different copy of each sound, and those variations are interpreted by the brain in a way that signifies 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 evaluate depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To test the principle 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 informs 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 specialist tells 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 collaborate so that our brains can best decipher the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the ability to identify 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 significant 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 tiring.
- 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 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 with time. This will quickly restrict your capability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the first step is to arrange a hearing examination with an experienced hearing specialist. 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 to you if you have hearing loss in one or both ears, but most cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will almost certainly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to try them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.