Do I Need Two Hearing Aids?
As an audiologist one of the most frequently asked questions patients ask is: “Do I really need two hearing aids or can I just use one?” The simple answer … Yes! If you have hearing loss in both ears, you need a pair of hearing aids. There are many reasons why an audiologist should always recommend a pair of hearing aids for a binaural (both ears) hearing loss. Are there cases where only one hearing aid may be the best option? Yes, but due to advances in technology they are becoming less frequent. Let’s take a look at a few reasons that Two is almost always better than One.
It’s All about the Brain!
If you have read any of our previous articles, you will not be surprised when I start out with: “We hear with our brain, not our ears!” How our brain processes sound is truly amazing, especially how it is able to take information from both ears and use that to create a “sound blueprint” of the environment. The first benefit we get from hearing well from both ears is something called Binaural Loudness Summation, which means that when a sound is picked up by both ears, the brain interprets it as being 3-6 dB louder than a single stimulus. This natural boost in the sound could be the difference between mishearing a word in a conversation and missing the whole conversation.
One of the most important aspects that I like to focus on with patients is that of balance between ears. When we are able to compensate for a binaural hearing loss, we have the ability to make our best improvements in hearing in difficult listening environments. Creating a good balance between the ears improves two aspects of how the brain processes sound: Localization and Spatial Processing. These two aspects of sound processing can be thought of as “depth perception” for hearing. This is how an individual can tell where a sound is coming from and helps to focus on one sound over another in the same environment. Without Localization and Spatial Processing all sounds in an environment would blend together and create a “wall of sound” that would cause noisy environments to be impossible to focus on what you wanted. This process can be compared to how most people wear a pair of glasses and not a monocle if they have impaired vision in both eyes.
The root of this question: “One hearing aid or two?” is usually a financial concern for most patients. Yes, two hearing aids will cost twice as much as one, but the gain far outweighs cost being doubled. In most cases where cost is a major factor for a patient, I will recommend that they go with a lower level of technology (i.e. less expensive) and get a pair rather than getting one premium technology hearing aid. Outcomes and overall satisfaction will almost always be improved with a pair of hearing aids.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication and are ready talk about options for improving your hearing, Call ENT Audiology Center at (325) 437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation. ENT Audiology Center, “Helping You Hear Better So You Can Live Life Better.”