Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re searching for the short answer, then yes, the majority of 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 in the first place, then keep on reading.
The Advantages of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s start with vision.
When we view an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then analyze the differences between the two copies to develop the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—in combination with height and width—allows us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had just one eye, our capability to perceive depth and distance would be significantly affected.
The benefits of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)
The same applies to our ears and our hearing. Although we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can typically determine both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear obtains a slightly different version of each sound, and those differences are translated by the brain in a way that signifies location and distance. This allows 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 judge depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the range of sounds you can hear.
To verify 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 Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t honestly consider the benefits 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 convinced to get fitted with 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 precise location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:
- concentrate on speech during a discussion even with substantial background noise.
- identify distinct voices among many.
- enlarge 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 weakening 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 enjoy all of the benefits just described.
If you think you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing test with a qualified hearing professional. After your hearing is tested, 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 case, your hearing specialist will almost certainly 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 assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.