The benefits of wearing two hearing aids as opposed to one
As an audiologist, this question comes up in my office just about every day. Hearing aids can be a significant investment and many people want to know if they can get by with only one. The fact of the matter is if you have hearing loss in both ears, in order to get the best possible hearing, you need a hearing aid for each ear. We were born with two ears for a reason.
Here are some reasons why two hearing aids are better than one:
- Better understanding of speech in background noise. Our brain uses sounds coming in from both sides to help focus on speech in difficult listening environments.
- Better ability to tell where sounds are coming from (localization). This is important for determining the origin of speech, as well as warning signals and other alerting sounds.
- Avoid deterioration of hearing in the unaided ear. Wearing only one hearing aid can deprive the other ear of stimulation and can cause it to further deteriorate.
- Better reception of sounds from both sides. With only one hearing aid, you will still miss a significant portion of the speech signal when someone is speaking to you from the unaided side.
- Wearing two hearing aids is less tiring. Just like trying to read with only one eye is more tiring because you find yourself straining and working harder, the same is true with hearing out of only one ear.
Of course, there are reasons why only one hearing aid may be recommended such as if you only have hearing loss in one ear, or if one ear is so bad that a hearing aid will not help. Outside of this, the arguments for wearing two hearing aids are very strong and supported by numerous studies. People simply cannot hear very well with only one ear. The bottom line is if both your ears can benefit from hearing aids, you will get much better results by wearing one in each ear.