Are 2 Hearing Aids Better Than 1?

Have you ever wondered why we have two ears, two eyes, two legs, and so on? Not really, we take all these features for granted. There is very sound logic in having two organs or limbs, these organs perform in pairs. The efficiency of two organs performing is higher than a single performing organ. It brings us to the basic question, should we use binaural hearing aids or a monoaural hearing aid?

Or are 2 Hearing Aids Better Than 1? Let us read further to know if a binaural hearing is beneficial for us compared to monoaural hearing.

Table of Contents

Do I Need Two Hearing Aids?

Your Audiologist is the best judge to decide whether you require binaural amplification. Your Audiogram report indicates the degree or extent of the hearing loss in each ear.

If you have a hearing loss in both ears or you suffer from bilateral hearing loss, then it is advisable to use binaural fitting or two hearing aids. Sensorineural Hearing loss is the most common type of deafness, and a majority of people suffer from bilateral sensorineural hearing loss or deafness in both ears.

Why Are 2 Hearing Aids Better Than 1?

Let us find out why Are 2 Hearing Aids Better Than 1 or bilateral hearing aids are better than monoaural hearing aids. As mentioned earlier, some of our organs work in pairs.

Our ear is one such organ, the ears placed on both sides of our head have a coverage of 360 degrees so we do not miss any sound. To understand better, do read our article How does my Ear Work.

Mentioned below are some of the advantages of bilateral hearing aids or the use of two hearing aids.

Advantages of Binaural Hearing Aids

1. Localization or Source of Sound

Localization of Sound diagram blog image
Localization of Sound. Determining the direction of the source of sound

Locating the source of sound or the direction from which it is coming is known as localization of sound. The sound picked up by both the ears is simultaneously sent to our brain for processing.

The brain processes the signals received from the left and the right ear. After processing both the signals it informs us of the direction of the sound or the location of the origin of the sound. As a normal reflex action, we turn towards the source of sound or as the case may be, towards the person talking or a car honking.

Comparison Between one and two hearing aids diagram
Comparison Between one and two hearing aids

How Does The Brain Judge The Direction Of Sound?

The brain calculates the time difference to judge the direction of the sound. If the sound signal reaches both ears at the same time, the source of sound is in the center. If the sound signal reaches the left ear first, then the source of sound is towards the left.

So, can I wear just one hearing aid? The answer is a big NO. Nature has given us two ears or a binaural hearing system and we must use them equally.

What Are The Problems With The Use Of One Hearing Aid?

  1. The following problems may occur in the case of monaural hearing aid use.
  • It can be dangerous when the car honks and we look in the wrong direction. Two hearing aids are necessary for our safety.
  • Someone calls out to us and we look in the wrong direction.
  • We are not sure who is speaking during office meetings and group discussions.

What is Binaural Hearing Communication?

Our Brain coordinates the signals from the left and the right ear. Hearing aid manufacturers realize the importance of this function and provide this option in some models of hearing aids. This is a feature called Binaural hearing communication. Read in detail about this feature. And other features available in advance digital hearing aids.

Binaural Hearing Communication diagram
Binaural Hearing Communication

2. How Do Binaural Hearing Aids Help In Reducing Background Noise?

Background noise reduction is also an important reason why 2 hearing aids are better than 1. The biggest challenge for the manufacturers is reducing the background noise as the hearing aid amplifies the noise along with the speech signal. Advanced digital hearing aids have excellent noise reduction features but completely eliminating background noise is difficult.

When we use two hearing aids, each hearing aid is kept at a lower volume setting, lower volume setting results in lower noise levels. Background noise reduction is much more effective if the person is using 2 hearing aids.

3. How Do Binaural Aids Help In Reducing Distortion?

In the case of binaural aids, the volume setting of each instrument can be set low. This results in better speech quality and higher clarity of sound. In the case of one hearing aid, a higher volume is required, which can lead to distortion.

4. Use of Smaller Or Invisible Hearing Aids In Case Of Two Hearing Aids

Invisible in the Canal Hearing Aid in the Ear blog image
Invisible in the Canal Hearing Aid in the Ear

Everyone wants a small invisible Hearing aid that is not visible to others. The size of the hearing aid increases as per the power output. High powered hearing aids are big because the internal parts like the receiver and the circuit are big as they deliver high output. The battery size also increases to meet the demand for high amplification.

This increases the overall size of the hearing aid. Hearing aids delivering lower output are generally smaller in size. One can select two hearing aids that are smaller in size.

5. How Does Use Of Two Hearing Aids Reduce The Head Shadow Effect?

Let us understand what is a head shadow effect and how it affects our hearing in case the person is using one hearing aid instead of two.

If a hearing aid is fitted in the left ear and someone calls out from the right, the person will hear once the sound reaches his left ear. So, the sound has to travel around the head to reach the ear with the hearing aid, as the right ear is poor and without a hearing aid.

Our head interferes or is in the way of the sound, this causes some distortion, the resulting loss of clarity is the head shadow effect. In the case of 2 Hearing aids, the sound does not have to travel around the head as both ears are equally good fitted with the binaural aids.

6. How Do Two Hearing Aids Reduce  Auditory Deprivation?

Exercising regularly keeps us fit and healthy. Similarly, our hearing system also needs exercise to stay fit. If we use only one hearing aid instead of two, the ear without the hearing aid does not get the required stimulation or is hardly used.

In this case, Auditory Deprivation or the reduction in the ability of the brain to process sound signals sets in. Hearing loss increases much rapidly in the unused ear. Hence, the use of two hearing aids reduces Auditory Deprivation.

7. How Do Two Hearing Aids Help in Reducing Stress?

Straining all the time to catch words and be a part of a conversation results in increased stress. Increased stress causes tiredness and fatigue. Increased stress leads to other medical issues in people with hypertension and diabetes. The use of binaural hearing aids reduces stress and related medical issues.

Can You Have A Hearing Aid In Just One Ear?

For some people, the price could be a reason for not using 2 Hearing aids. Every brand offers a wide range of digital hearing aids at affordable prices. These affordable hearing aids have all the necessary features that are helpful for a normal lifestyle. So, price should not be a factor for not using 2 hearing aids.

There are certain conditions where monaural hearing aid use is acceptable.

  • Some people may have a mild or a moderate hearing loss in one ear and the other ear is normal (Asymmetrical hearing loss). In this case, the use of monaural hearing aid is advisable.
  • In cases, where one has lost total hearing in one ear. One ear can have 100% loss due to an accident. A hearing aid in the ear with total loss does not help much, in this case, a hearing aid in the better ear is advisable.

Use of a Hearing aids is advisable even in case of a mild hearing loss. The above advantages prove beyond doubt as to why are 2 hearing aids better than 1. People suffering from bilateral hearing loss should opt for binaural hearing aids as the quality of sound is very close to natural hearing.

About the Author
Amrik Singh Arora Founder EarGuru photo
Amrik Singh Arora  is the founder of EarGuru – the Ear Health Blog. An Engineer by qualification, he has over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and sale of Hearing aids, Audiometers and Assistive listening devices. He was the Secretary of the Hearing Association of India from 2013 to 2017 and was last Associated with Starkey India as a Director-Business Development.

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