June 21, 2019 Hearing Aids
It is very common for people with hearing loss to ask their Audiologist, “Do I really need two hearing aids?” The truth is that there are many reasons why two hearing aids are often necessary, even if your hearing loss is a lot worse in only one ear.
Two ears matter! Your two ears work together to serve many purposes such as keeping you safe, locating where sound is coming from, and help you follow conversation. Your ears and your brain work together as a system. Your ears funnel information into the system and your brain processes the information into sound. This system is constantly taking in a wide variety of cues automatically, and effortlessly identifies the sounds and locates where they are coming from. Imagine you are about to step into traffic. It is your two ears working with your brain to let you know whether or not it is safe to proceed.
Our ears were engineered to work together to allow for the best possible hearing and understanding. Binaural listening is impaired when one experiences a hearing loss in one or both ears. When an Audiologist finds a hearing loss in one or both of your ears, it’s always better to get two aids, even though it may be less expensive to get just one. One hearing aid alone cannot provide the same ear-to-ear experience as two and will not offer the user the same listening experience. Two hearing aids will also enable easier audibility and directional sound detection.
So what are some of the benefits to wearing two hearing aids?
(1) Fuller, more natural listening experience – The world is meant to be heard in “surround sound” and two hearing aids help provide fuller and richer sound for a more natural listening experience. The brain requires input from both ears to hear the world in “surround sound” and using only one hearing aid when two are needed impairs your auditory perception of your surrounding environment.
(2) Easier processing of sounds and speech through auditory and cognitive systems— Your ears are designed to work together and binaurally process sounds, and your brain’s two halves also work together to create auditory intelligence. Each ear is responsible for sending unique signals to your brain, and each signal is received differently and affects perception and understanding. In short, your ears and brain work together to create a precise definition of the sound you have just heard, and when only one ear is working to send signals, it can take longer to understand the sound or it can alter the perception of the sound itself.
(3) Volume Reduction—When hearing loss occurs, many find themselves turning up the volume on the radio or TV. Wearing two hearing aids eliminates the need for loud volumes and consequently helps reduce your exposure to unsafe listening levels when enjoying radio, movies or music.
(4) Tinnitus Management—Hearing aids are often recommended for helping to manage tinnitus, many are equipped with tinnitus specific technology or masking capabilities. Using one hearing aid will not help mask the ringing in the unaided ear, so it’s recommended that two hearing aids are used when tinnitus is a concern.