Are two hearing aids better than one?
If you’re searching for the quick answer, then yes, almost all cases of hearing loss are best managed with two hearing aids.
If you want to understand why, or are interested about why we have two ears to begin with, then continue reading.
The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision
Let’s begin with eyesight.
When we look at an image, each eye receives a slightly different copy of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two versions to manifest the perception of depth. This additional dimension of depth—together with height and width—enables us to experience the world in three dimensions.
If we had only one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be severely affected.
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 judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.
Each ear receives a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are interpreted 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 coming from.
In addition to being able to assess depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and expands the range of sounds you can hear.
To test the principle of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in the car, turn off both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.
The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
If our eye doctor informs us that we have vision loss in both eyes, we don’t seriously 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 capacity to identify the precise location of sound from using two hearing aids, you’ll be able to:
- focus on speech during a discussion even with significant background noise.
- pick out specific voices among many.
- increase the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
- hear sounds without straining, which is less tiring.
- listen to sounds without the unnatural sensation of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
- Avoid 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 worse with time. This will quickly limit your ability to enjoy all of the benefits just described.
If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing test with a qualified hearing professional. Shortly after your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will share 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 most cases of hearing loss are in both ears.
If this is the case, your hearing specialist will probably highly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great chance to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.