Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re hunting for the quick answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are best managed 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 receives a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then compute the differences between the two copies to establish the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—coupled 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 affected.
The Advantages of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same phenomenon applies to our ears and our hearing. Although 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 copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted by the brain in a way that indicates location and distance. This allows us to hear in three dimensions, so that we recognize how far away and which direction sound is coming from.
On top of being able to judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and expands the spectrum of sounds you can hear.
To test 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 tells us that we have vision impairment in both eyes, we don’t seriously 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 collaborate so that our brains can best interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.
With the power to determine the precise location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- concentrate on speech during a conversation even with substantial background noise.
- pick out specific voices among many.
- enlarge 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 deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.
That final 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 even worse with time. This will quickly limit your capability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.
If you think you have hearing loss, the first step is to schedule a hearing exam with a qualified hearing professional. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will discuss 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 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.