A common question hearing professionals receive during a hearing aid evaluation is the question, “Can I just wear one hearing aid?” Although each patient’s hearing loss is different, in the majority of cases the answer is two. The following is a list of reasons why two hearing aids are better than one.
1. Better sound localization. Sound localization is the ability to determine where a sound is coming from. Our brain is wired to use auditory information from both sides to determine precisely where sound originated. Improved localization will allow you to immediately draw your attention to a person talking directly to you in situations where more than one person may be talking. Localization is also important for safety, allowing you to locate approaching traffic, sirens, or other important environmental sounds.
2. Improved hearing in background noise. When in a situation with both speech and background noise, the brain compares the speech and the noise entering both ears to automatically attempt to “filter” out background noise and focus on understanding speech. Using one hearing aid requires more focus and effort to discriminate speech from noise. Additionally, many hearing devices include features to reduce background noise automatically that are only available when used as a pair.
3. Reduced tinnitus. Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing or buzzing in the ears is often a symptom of hearing loss. Many patients find relief from their tinnitus by treating their existing hearing loss with hearing devices. If the tinnitus is perceived from both ears, treating only one side would result in continued perception of the tinnitus from the other ear.
4. Reduced listening effort. Addressing the hearing loss in both ears allows the user to feel more balanced. The use of one hearing aid requires more strain and listening effort to compensate for hearing with only one ear.
5. Reduced auditory deprivation. It is important to keep your ears “active” by stimulating them with both speech and environmental sounds. When one or both ears go an extended amount of time without stimulation, the deprived auditory system may suffer from reduced speech understanding or more difficulty hearing in background noise. Using two hearing aids can keep both ears active and trained to process speech in all listening situations.
As you can see, there are several reasons why two hearing aids are likely more beneficial than one. However, all patients’ needs are unique and an audiologist will help you determine which hearing treatment is best for you and your needs. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist.