Is It Alright to Wear Just One Hearing Aid?

Two silver, behind-the-ear hearing aids in the hands of a hearing aid expert

There are a number of benefits to wearing two hearing aids rather than one hearing aid. When you have a hearing loss in more than one ear, it is recommended that you wear two hearing aids.

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, even if they are affordable hearing aids. However, if that person has a hearing loss 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 Reasons why it’s recommended to wear 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 received 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 a hearing loss is not stimulated with sound, it is possible that over time the hearing loss will worsen. This is called auditory deprivation. In the same way, our muscles deteriorate over time if they are not used. By using two hearing aids, both ears are stimulated and will receive sound, leading to less chance of auditory deprivation.

Tinnitus reduction

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.

We hear best in pairs

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.

Call hearing experts to discuss your options (779) 212-7334.

Hearing expert and article author Faatima

Written byFaatima Nakhooda

Masters in Audiology

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