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One vs. Two Hearing Aids

And the Benefit of Binaural Hearing

“Why should I wear two hearing aids? Can’t I just treat my really bad ear for hearing loss? Can’t I get by with just one?” You may find these questions running through your mind as you listen to your audiologist recommend binaural amplification, or hearing aids in both ears. The benefits of binaural amplification are many, and in most cases far outweigh the disadvantage of the added cost for a second device. Research and clinical experience have proven that, for most people with hearing loss in both ears, two hearing aids are significantly better than one.
Just like you see better when both eyes work together, and you wear glasses with lenses for both eyes, the part of your brain that processes sound works best when it receives sound from both ears. Below are several advantages of wearing two hearing aids.

Better hearing in background noise.

Selective listening is easier with two hearing aids. Your brain is better able to focus on what you want to hear and not on the noise in the background.

Better localization.

Hearing equally with both ears allows you to identify where sound is coming from. This can also be a safety issue, especially in traffic. With only one hearing aid, localization is not possible. Localization is critical for understanding speech in the presence of background noise.

Two Ears Means More Brainpower.

Sounds collected by your left ear are initially processed by the right side of the brain, while sounds collected by your right ear are initially processed by the left side of the brain. After they are received, the two halves of your brain work together to organize the signals into recognizable words and sounds. Using both sides of the brain significantly improves the ability to decipher speech and what’s known as “selective listening” ability — the ability to pay attention to the sound or voice you really want to hear.

Hearing sounds on both sides.

Binaural amplification allows you to hear sounds on either side of you. This is helpful in social situations, and again, can be a safety issue. Also, most people prefer to hear “in stereo” and binaural amplification allows you to feel more balanced. The use of two hearing aids also allows you to hear sound from greater distances.

Better sound quality.

Wearing two hearing instruments generally requires less volume than one instrument alone. This results in less distortion of the sound and improved sound quality.

Less feedback from the hearing aid.

Again, with a lower volume setting, feedback, or whistling from the hearing aids, is less likely to occur.

More comfortable when loud sounds occur.

As lower volume settings are required, loud sounds are generally more easily tolerated.

Better sound identification.

Often, with only one hearing instrument, many noises and words sound alike. With two hearing instruments, sounds are usually more distinguishable.

More relaxed listening.

Wearing two hearing devices often results in more comfortable listening, as the listener does not have to strain as much to hear.

Tinnitus suppression.

Many people suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing or other sound in the ears often accompanied by hearing loss. Binaural amplification can often reduce the perception of tinnitus by masking it with sounds from the environment.

Both ears stay active.

“Use it or lose it.” Research has shown that when only one ear is aided and there is hearing loss in both ears, the unaided ear will lose its ability to understand speech faster than the aided ear. This deterioration of speech comprehension may become permanent if not addressed in time.

Contact us to discuss your hearing situation and what kind of hearing care solution is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. A 25-year study by the Department of Aging revealed a strong connection between hearing loss and dementia and there is strong evidence that hearing loss accelerates brain-tissue loss, particularly in areas of the brain that auditory nerves would stimulate but can’t because it isn’t receiving a signal (due to a hearing loss). These areas of the brain are also related to memory and speech. A second recent 25-year study, published in the October 2015 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, shows wearing hearing aids reduces the amount of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. Individuals with a mild hearing loss are three times more likely to fall down than those without, and the likelihood of falls increases as degree of hearing loss increases. Hearing loss has also been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sickle-cell anemia, and other circulatory conditions.
A hearing aid for each ear is not always recommended for everyone with a hearing loss. There are some instances where one ear may not benefit from amplification, such as with unilateral hearing loss which leaves one ear unusable. However, most people with hearing loss in each ear will benefit from two hearing devices. If you are a candidate for hearing instruments, your audiologist will advise you whether one or two will be best for your individual needs.