Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re looking for the short answer, then yes, the majority of instances of hearing loss are best managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are interested about the reasons why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with eyesight.
When we look at an image, each eye receives a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two versions to create the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—in conjunction with height and width—makes it possible for us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our ability to perceive depth and distance would be considerably 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 typically 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 translated by the brain in a way that signifies location and distance. This allows us to hear in three dimensions, so that we know how far away and which direction sound is originating from.
Along with being able to evaluate depth, distance, and location, having two ears also heightens the quality of sound and increases the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To check the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re playing music in a vehicle, disable 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 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 persuaded to use 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 power to determine the precise location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- focus on speech during a conversation even with substantial background noise.
- pick out 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 unnatural sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Prevent the weakening of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That last point is significant. 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 restrict your capability to achieve all of the benefits just described.
If you think you have hearing loss, the first step is to schedule a hearing assessment with an experienced hearing specialist. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will share the results with you in a chart known as an audiogram.
The audiogram will show 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 situation, your hearing specialist will probably suggest binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great opportunity to test for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.