Nobody is pleased to hear the news that they have hearing loss and will need to begin wearing a hearing aid. It is especially upsetting for some to learn that they actually need to invest in two hearing aids. Rest assured that if your audiologist recommended two hearing devices, they’re not trying to pull one over on you. Instead, they are following evidence-based practices and have your best interest in mind.
If you have questions about the benefits of wearing two hearing devices, we have answers.
Does Everyone with Hearing Loss Need Two Hearing Aids?
No, not everyone who experiences hearing loss needs to wear two hearing aids. Those who have hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other ear only need one device. However, if you have hearing loss in both ears, even if one ear is better than the other, two devices will be recommended.
Why Two Devices Are Better than One
Two hearing devices allow your brain to process sound through binaural hearing. When hearing is normal, sound signals enter both ears and are comparable in strength. The brain then picks out important sounds, like voices, and filters out background noise. However, if you have hearing loss in both ears but wear just one hearing aid, voices may seem softer than the background noise, and it will be harder for your brain to focus on the important sounds.
It’s also the case that your brain has a harder time localizing – or identifying the location of a sound – when only one ear is aided. Normally, the brain compares the qualities of the sound signals coming through each ear. But if sounds are always louder in one ear, the brain can’t use this information to identify the direction of the sound source.
Finally, experts hypothesize that wearing two hearing aids can help conserve hearing in the weaker ear. This is because hearing aids keep the auditory nerve stimulated with strong sound signals. While there’s no proof that auditory nerves deteriorate from inadequate stimulation, research shows that other parts of the nervous system, including the brain, suffer from lack of use. For more information about the benefits of binaural hearing or to schedule an appointment, call Hampton Roads ENT today.