You would not wear one lens in your glasses or one good shoe and one flip flop, so why would you wear one hearing aid? If you have established that you have hearing loss, maybe you are moving on to the thought of investing in a hearing aid. If your hearing loss is more pronounced in one ear, a tempting idea might be to just get one hearing aid for one ear. We have the facts behind why correcting hearing loss in both ears is vital. In the case of hearing aids, two are almost always better than one!
Hearing loss in one ear, unilateral hearing loss, is almost unheard of. Much more common is hearing loss of varying degrees in both ears, known as “binaural hearing loss.” Just as one eye might have 20/100 vision, and the other eye might be 20/140, you might have different levels of loss in each ear. While it might be tempting to save money and only purchase one hearing aid, think about the importance of balanced hearing.
Having corrected hearing in both ears is the equivalent of hearing in stereo. If you are listening to music, chances are you are listening to more than one speaker, or more than one headphone. Hearing aids work the same way. Two hearing aids capture a much wider range of sound, providing a fuller and more accurate hearing experience.
Having two hearing aids instead of just one enables you to hear speech more clearly. Nuances in conversation are easier to comprehend if both ears are being corrected. Two hearing aids work together to filter out background noise and sharpen, or hone in on, the voice that is speaking. When your hearing loss is corrected in both ears, versus just one ear, you can spend less time straining to hear someone speak, and more time on the actual conversation.
Where a sound comes from can be an important part of hearing. If someone is blaring a horn behind you or a child is calling to you from a distance, locating where the sound is coming from matters. When you have one hearing aid in one ear, and the other ear is not being corrected, the direction of a sound can be challenging to detect. Two hearing aids working together, known as binaural hearing aids, can help you more easily determine where a sound is coming from. This way, you can hear where a horn is beeping or where someone is if they are speaking to you.
If you have tinnitus, a type of hearing loss that gives you a constant ringing in your ears, wearing two hearing aids will greatly reduce the ringing. Even if it is milder in one ear than in the other, binaural hearing aids can give you substantial relief from tinnitus symptoms.
Wearing only one hearing aid can affect your hearing in both ears over time. You may find that you suffer from cognitive overload because you are still concentrating so intently on hearing, versus being able to easily hear and interpret sounds. If you only wear one hearing aid, you might also feel like it needs to be louder than if you are balancing the volume between two hearing aids. This can be harder on your ears and on your hearing aids. Two hearing aids at a lower volume can also help by lessening the potential for whistling and feedback noises that higher volumes often create.
Hearing loss does not have to feel hopeless. Hearing specialists can help you find a pair of hearing aids that will have you hearing clearly and comfortably again in a short time. Choosing two hearing aids can have you hearing “in stereo,” no matter what environment you are in.
Now that you know the importance of correcting your hearing in both ears, you can start looking at different devices. If picking out a pair of hearing aids feels overwhelming, we can help. Our Buyer’s Guide will help you learn about the different types of hearing aids and what may work best for you. Once you are familiar with some types of hearing aids and facts, our specialists can help you narrow down the best devices for your lifestyle!