Hearing loss that happens naturally, particularly age-related hearing loss, usually affects both ears. However, based on the situation, your hearing loss may be more advanced in one ear than the other. In such a case, your audiologist or any other hearing professional may recommend finding hearing aids for both ears.
While it might be tempting to try to reduce costs by buying one hearing aid, the truth is that one hearing aid simply can’t do the work of two. Here are four reasons why wearing two hearing aids is more beneficial.
1. Better sound quality
There is more to sound than just its volume. Everyone wants to hear things, particularly speech, delicately and clearly. The sound clarity is experienced better when you wear two hearing aids rather than one. Wearing two hearing aids creates clearer conversation, making it possible to better identify and understand sound. In addition, stereo sound is better than mono, and no one would want to compromise such an essential sense by wearing hearing aids in one ear.
2. Improved localization
Localization is the ability to determine where a sound is coming from or the location of a sound source. People learn to master this ability from the moment they are born and learn to turn their heads in the direction of their mother’s voice. Determining the source of sound is useful in daily life and can be a critical safety consideration.
When you wear two hearing aids, your brain utilizes the information about the sound level and quality to better locate where the sound is coming from. When you are in a crowd with people talking, and there is background noise, it will be easier to locate the person speaking directly to you.
3. Tinnitus relief
Tinnitus is when you experience a ringing sensation or other noises in both ears. It can usually be an effect of trauma caused by hearing loss. The loud noise exposure can either wear out the soft inner ear hair cells or cause a ringing sensation due to inadequate stimulation to the nerves used to transfer the sound information up to your brain. Research has shown that bilateral amplification, which is generated by putting on two hearing aids, can alleviate or eliminate tinnitus. However, you can still experience the same result when using only one hearing aid.
4. Reduce the need for volume
Wearing two hearing aids causes an effect known as binaural summation. This is when you hear a sound at a better volume when both of your ears hear a sound signal simultaneously compared to when either of them hears a signal by itself. Binaural summation can also help to separate frequencies and boosts speech understanding regardless of whether you are in noise or quiet.
If your brain gets an improved perception of volume from wearing hearing aids, it means the devices don’t need to do so much work. Your hearing aids can be programmed with less volume and power setting than when you are wearing one hearing aid.
You can wear just one hearing aid if you experience hearing loss in one ear, but your audiologist will highly recommend wearing two for these reasons. While it might seem economical to buy only one, the immediate and long-term benefits of purchasing two hearing aids are more worth the investment.