Just wondering if I can wear one hearing aid instead of two? Seems like in the past people regularly wore one aid, and it would be cheaper to just buy one, but my Audiologist says I need two.
Is this really necessary?
We asked Doctor of Audiology, Teresa Burns, from Teresa Burns Hearing Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand, to respond to this reader’s question.
We have two ears for a reason, just like we have two eyes. Our brain is wired to use input from both ears to evaluate sounds in our environment, decipher where sounds are located, and focus on what we want to hear. For this and other reasons I’ll explain below, whenever possible it is important to preserve ‘binaural hearing’ or hearing through two ears.
- If your hearing loss is similar in both ears I would generally recommend wearing two hearing aids. Occasionally people have one ear that is much better or much worse, speech clarity is compromised in one ear, or due to a physical issue it is only possible to wear one hearing aid. However, most people hear better with two hearing aids. After a full evaluation your Audiologist will be able to tell you if there are any reasons to consider wearing only one hearing aid, or if you need two.
- In the past hearing aids were a lot bigger and heavier on the ear than modern hearing aids, so it was more common for people to wear only one. Hearing aids back then blocked the ear and caused the ear to feel plugged and your voice to echo. Many people could only tolerate wearing one aid. The good news is modern hearing aids are much smaller, lighter and often only have a thin tube or dome in the ear. It is now very comfortable for most people to wear two hearing aids and gain the benefit of both ears working together.
- Many modern hearing aids have features that work ear-to-ear such a volume controls, noise reduction and directional microphones. The hearing aids share information and talk to each other! So, choosing to only wear one hearing aid can sometimes mean you lose access to these specialized features.
- Your brain hears better in noisy situations with both ears working together. So you can actually get better value for money if you wear two hearing aids.
- You need two ears to ‘localize’ or to hear where sounds are coming from. Similar to how you need two eyes for depth perception.
- There is research that suggests people who chose to wear one hearing aid lose speech clarity in the unaided ear. If you don’t use it you can lose it.
Hearing is good for your brain!
To contact Teresa Burns Hearing,
call 09 475 9849, or visit teresaburnshearing.co.nz for more information.
Do you have any other suggestions you would like to share with readers?
That’s very good to know and well explained. Thank you
Thank you for that feedback – audiologist, Dr Teresa Burns is excellent at explaining everything. Watch out for more articles each month.