Do I Really Need Two Hearing Aids?

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If you are experiencing any level of hearing loss in both ears, then – yes – you should absolutely get hearing aids for both ears. Humans have binaural hearing, which means that we hear with both ears.  Obvious, but having two ears isn’t just an aesthetic nod to symmetry. The location of our ears on opposite sides of our head is part of the amazing function of our overall hearing.

From an evolutionary standpoint, binaural hearing contributed to our survival by allowing us to localize sound.  We can quickly determine the origin of a noise through cues from both ears.  If we hear a cry for help, we know where to go.  If we hear approaching danger, we know where not to go.  In modern times, sound localization still protects us from impending threats, but it also enriches our lives. Listening to music, identifying the speaker in a dynamic conversation, and knowing where to look to find a tweeting bird are all examples of binaural hearing in action.

If a sound originates from our left, our left ear hears it before the right ear.  If a sound originates from the right, our right ear hears it before the left. That fraction of a second where one ear captures sound before the other ear is how the brain figures out the source of the sound. All of this happens automatically and seamlessly as part of a complex and astounding process. Hearing loss interrupts that process.  

If you have degraded source material, the result is going to be degraded.  When our hearing declines, our brains receive substandard information regarding sound and sound location. Each ear transmits different signals to our brain for processing. The inputs from the left ear don’t just stay on the left side of the brain, and the same is true for the right side.  Some of those sound signals stay on the side of the brain where they were received, while other signals will need to travel to the other side of the brain. Both ears working with both sides of the brain is known as auditory intelligence.

Both ears contribute to hearing, so both ears need hearing aids for hearing loss.  It doesn’t matter if one ear still hears a bit better than the other. Since hearing loss occurs gradually, it’s important to have both ears tested by a professional.  It may feel like one ear is the ‘good ear’ and the other is the ‘bad ear’, but really, both ears are most likely affected. Imagine having no lens on one side of a pair of glasses because one eye is not as bad as the other.  There is nothing to be gained and quite a lot to be lost by only treating one ear.

The benefits of treating hearing loss in both ears include:

  • Improved sound localization
  • Less hearing strain on the untreated ear
  • Improved ability to distinguish background noises
  • More well-rounded hearing including an increase in picking up softer sounds

The best way to figure out what you need is to figure out where you are with your hearing health.  Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing health evaluation today.



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