Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, then yes, most cases of hearing loss are best treated with two hearing aids.
If you want to learn why, or are interested about why we have two ears in the first place, then keep on reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with vision.
When we view an image, each eye acquires a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then calculate the differences between the two copies to yield the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—together with height and width—permits us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capability to perceive depth and distance would be substantially compromised.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same phenomenon applies to our ears and our hearing. Although we may 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 obtains a slightly different version of each sound, and those variations are interpreted by the brain in a way that indicates location and distance. This enables 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 enhances the quality of sound and increases the range of sounds you can hear.
To test 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 Advantages of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision impairment in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider the benefits 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 convinced to get fitted with two hearing aids?
As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the capability to establish the precise location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a conversation even with substantial background noise.
- identify distinct 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 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 over time. This will quickly restrict your ability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing examination with a qualified hearing specialist. After your hearing is tested, your hearing specialist will discuss 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 the majority of cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will probably 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 test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.