Can You Wear a Hearing Aid in Just One Ear?
Published: November 18, 2020
Updated: July 20, 2022
Hearing loss that occurs naturally—especially age-related hearing loss—typically affects both ears. However, depending on the situation, hearing loss may be more advanced in one ear than the other. Even in that case, an audiologist or other hearing professional may recommend getting hearing aids for both ears.
If you’re new to hearing aids, adjusting to your devices can take time, and you may wonder if wearing one instead of two is an option. However, wearing two hearing aids may have additional benefits that make it a great choice.
Can You Wear Just One Hearing Aid?
While wearing two hearing aids can be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. If a person has hearing loss in one ear and normal or “almost normal” hearing in the other ear, one hearing aid will most likely be recommended.
However, when hearing loss is present in both ears, whether the same level of hearing loss in both ears or a different level of hearing loss, two hearing aids would most likely be recommended. Why? Because we hear better in pairs!
6 Benefits of Wearing Two Hearing Aids
Better location of sound
When a person uses both ears to listen to sounds and locate where the sounds are coming from, it is called “localization.” If a person is using just one hearing aid, the brain finds it difficult to process where the sound is coming from, as the ear with the hearing aid receives the louder sounds.
With the use of two hearing aids, the brain uses the information about the level of sound as well as the quality of the sound to better locate where the sound originates from. If you’re in a crowd with people talking and with background noise present, it will be easier to locate the person that is talking directly to you as you have better localization skills with both your hearing aids in use.
Another important aspect in locating sounds is the safety factor. You will be able to locate important warning sounds, for example, where the sound of a car hooter is coming from, an alarm signal, as well as other environmental sounds.
Less auditory deprivation
If an ear that already has hearing loss is not stimulated with sound, it is possible that over time the hearing loss will worsen—just as our muscles deteriorate over time if they are not used. This is called auditory deprivation. By using two hearing aids, both ears are stimulated and will receive sound, leading to less chance of auditory deprivation.
Tinnitus is a ringing sensation that people with hearing loss often experience in their ears. Research and experience have shown that the use of two hearing aids assists in reducing the ringing sound in the ears. Some newer hearing aids even come with a “tinnitus masking” feature which helps patients with severe tinnitus.
Lower volume means better sound quality
When a person is wearing one hearing aid, they will need to set the volume at a higher level to compensate for the other ear not receiving any sound. This could become uncomfortable and interfere with sound quality. The louder the volume on a hearing aid, the more the sound becomes distorted and the more difficult it is to hear speech clearly.
If you use two hearing aids, the volume on both the hearing aids can be set at a more comfortable level and one will be able to hear adequately. Often people who have one hearing aid complain that everything becomes too loud and they do not enjoy wearing the hearing aid as they find it uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that if the volume is extremely high on one ear, it could damage the hearing even more. By having two hearing aids you are able to set the volume lower and you won’t cause any damage in the process.
Improved binaural hearing
Our ears pick up sound from both the left and right sides and our brain processes it; this is termed “binaural hearing”. If you use one hearing aid and you have a hearing loss in the other ear, some information will be lost from the ear without the hearing aid and your brain will not be able to process all the information it receives correctly. If you use two hearing aids, the brain will be able to process sounds from both sides and sift out speech from noise, giving you a better understanding of conversations.
Better hearing in background noise
When you are in a noisy environment, it becomes more difficult to hear speech, whether you have a hearing loss or not. If you are wearing a hearing aid in this type of environment, the hearing aid has to do extra work to distinguish between speech and noise, and to send speech signals to you.
Most modern hearing aids have features built-in where background noise is automatically reduced. If you only wear one hearing aid, this feature may not work very well because only one hearing aid is doing the work to block out the background noise. You will need to strain to hear which will lead to listening fatigue.
Treat Your Hearing Loss Today
When you have a hearing loss in more than one ear, it is recommended that you wear two hearing aids, for the reasons mentioned above. However, each person’s situation is different, as well as their ability to afford one or two hearing aids. Hearing aids require maintenance and can be costly, so perhaps you will need to start with one hearing aid and purchase the second in the long term to gain the maximum benefit of wearing hearing aids.
To get started, check out Lexie hearing aids. Featuring a discreet profile and advanced hearing technology—all at an affordable price— Lexie hearing aids are a great solution for those looking to address their hearing loss.
Lexie hearing aids pair with the Lexie app for maximum control of your devices, including the ability to adjust volume and change hearing environment settings from your smartphone or other mobile devices.
Try the Lexie hearing aids risk-free today. Order online, or contact one of our Lexie Experts to learn more.