When discussing hearing aids, I’m often asked: “Do I need two hearing aids? Why can’t I just wear one?”
It’s a great question, and certainly one hearing aid is going to provide more benefit than none. However, in most cases two hearing aids (binaural fittings) are required to get the best outcome.
Wearing one hearing aid will provide some benefits to the wearer. It will help them to hear one-to-one conversations in quiet, the television and radio more clearly, and provide awareness of sounds in the environment. However, with a single hearing aid, people are likely to still have difficulties localising sound, and hearing speech that originates on the unaided side of their head.
The reason for this is to do with the way our brain processes sound; it relies on the information from both ears to make sense of the listening environment. When some of this information is missing people are left unable to hear as well as they could. Wearing two hearing aids allows us a more complete picture of the soundscape and provides additional benefits when compared to wearing one device.
One of the key advantages of wearing two hearing aids is in the ability to localise sounds. With a single hearing aid, sounds are biased towards the ear with the hearing aid, making it difficult to detect their true position in the environment. This can lead to safety issues, particularly for people who are unable to determine the direction of oncoming traffic. Further, the ability to localise sound helps us to detect, and focus on, speech in group conversations. People with two hearing aids are much better adept at this task than people with one.
Binaural fittings also offer an important advantage in challenging listening environments. Evidence shows that, in quiet, people with one hearing aid perform similarly to people with two.
However, their performance dramatically differs once noise is added. In the presence of background noise, the brain uses the sound heard from both ears to separate speech from competing sounds. It is this process that results in a significantly better performance by those who have two hearing aids when compared to those who have one.
Other studies and evidence have shown further advantages to people who wear two hearing aids.
- Reduced listening effort
- Better tinnitus suppression
- Reduced risk of auditory deprivation (where the brain loses its ability to comprehend speech on the side without the hearing aid), and
- A more comfortable listening experience (with less risk of distortion, feedback, and discomfort towards loud sounds).
In cases where people need to hear in challenging listening environments, the benefit of wearing two hearing aids outweighs the added cost of an extra device. However, if you’re unsure as to the benefit you’ll experience then the best thing to do is to try it for yourself.
Value Hearing offers a full 60 Day Money Back Guarantee, allowing you to take both devices away and experience the difference between using one and two hearing aids.