As an audiologist, I understand that dealing with hearing loss can be a frustrating experience and also expensive. The decision to wear one or two hearing aids can be a difficult one to make. However, I believe it is important for me to educate you on the benefits of wearing two hearing aids, so you can make an informed decision. Research clearly shows most people prefer two hearing aids.
Always remember that there are exceptions to what I write in this article and you should speak with an audiologist for personalized counsel.
Wearing two hearing aids provides a significant advantage in terms of improved sound localization. This means that your brain can more easily determine the direction and speaker of sounds, which is important for personal safety. This benefit is particularly important when crossing roads or in situations where you need to identify the location of sounds.
Another benefit of wearing two hearing aids is better speech recognition in noisy environments. In noisy settings, such as a busy restaurant, it can be difficult to understand what people are saying. Wearing two hearing aids allows your brain to separate target speech from background noise, making it easier to hear and understand conversations.
Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can also be reduced with two hearing aids. Not only do they make the ringing harder to perceive, but they also cancel out background noise that contributes to the condition. This can lead to a significant reduction in the symptoms of tinnitus.
Using only one hearing aid can compromise the listening experience and lead to increased listening effort and auditory deprivation in the weaker ear. In fact, some experts believe that wearing two hearing aids may help conserve hearing in the weaker ear by keeping the auditory nerve stimulated with adequately amplified sound. Lower volume and less feedback are possible with two hearing aids, as soft tones sound louder when the brain is receiving signals from both ears.
Benefits of Two Hearing Aids
Improved sound localization and safety
The ability to locate where a sound is coming from is essential for personal safety. With two hearing aids, your brain is better able to determine the direction and speaker of sounds. This is particularly important in situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings, such as when crossing a busy street or when someone is calling your name from behind.
Better speech recognition in noisy environments
In noisy settings, such as a crowded restaurant, it can be difficult to hear and understand conversations. Wearing two hearing aids allows your brain to separate target speech from background noise, making it easier to comprehend what is being said. This not only makes social interactions more enjoyable, but it also helps reduce frustration and stress in everyday situations.
Reduction in tinnitus symptoms
Tinnitus can be a distressing condition that affects many people. The constant ringing or buzzing in the ears can make it difficult to concentrate or even sleep. Wearing two hearing aids can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus by making the ringing harder to perceive and canceling out background noise that contributes to the condition.
Lower listening effort and prevention of auditory deprivation
Using only one hearing aid can compromise the listening experience and lead to increased listening effort and auditory deprivation in the weaker ear. Wearing two hearing aids ensures that both ears are actively stimulated with adequately amplified sound, which can extend the lifespan of the auditory system.
Extended lifespan of the auditory system
The human auditory system is designed to process sound through both ears. When only one ear is used, the other ear can become weaker over time due to lack of use. Wearing two hearing aids can help prevent this by keeping both ears active and stimulated with hearing devices. This can extend the lifespan of the auditory system and prevent atrophy.
If you have a dead ear or are completely deaf in one ear, or by changing your word recognition scores are very low on one ear vs the good ear. You may not get any benefit from hearing about that bad side. This is when your audiologist will have important recommendations for you. Consider a Cros hearing aid on the dead ear, and seek out advice on if you would benefit from a cochlear implant. There are times due to a person’s cercumstance that I do only recommend one hearing aid, but those instances are rare.
I fully understand that hearing aids are expensive. In addition, I understand that insurance usually does not pay a lot toward hearing aid benefits. If the price is holding you back, I would recommend buying two lower-end models of hearing aids over one premium-level of device. I would even recommend two OTC hearing aids over one professionally fit device. The benefit you get from hearing on both sides is real and can prevent further decline in word recognition.