Should I wear two hearing aids for both my ears?

One of the most frequent concerns of new patients is, do I need two hearing aids for my hearing loss.

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Should I wear two hearing aids for both my ears?

"Two is better than one," as we often hear. We advise two hearing aids if you have hearing loss in both ears because you will hear better with two hearing aids than one. You have bilateral hearing but only one brain. In other words, your ears detect noise, but your brain processes random noise into recognizable sounds. It's more comfortable if your brain is obtaining signals from both ears.

Your hearing care provider or audiologist will program each hearing device individually to correspond to the precise levels of amplification required in each ear because it's normal to have various levels of hearing loss in each ear.


For many years, a study in hearing science has backed the idea of using two hearing aids. Some reasons are:


Risk of Auditory Deprivation

One of the best ways to keep your body healthy and in good working order is by regular exercise, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and getting your steps in for the day. Conversely, when we don't move and use our muscles, they tend to weaken and even atrophy over time.

Though your ears aren't muscles, restraining them from sound can make the auditory nerve pathways and the associated commands in the brain slightly dv effective at interpreting the sounds around you. In the presence of noise, understanding speech gets complicated even when the sound is loud enough for you to hear. Hearing healthcare professionals call this auditory deprivation.

Using two hearing aids means each ear picks up sound and gets the stimulus it needs to stay at peak performance. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology peeked at the word recognition abilities of people with one hearing aid versus two.

Researchers discovered a significantly higher number of the study subjects wearing only one hearing aid encountered a drop in their word recognition than those with two hearing aids.


Better sound quality using two hearing aids

One of the most significant reasons you may be considering getting hearing aids is that, besides not being able to hear at typical levels, you'll discover that even if you can hear, the sound isn't clear. You have trouble comprehending what others are saying. Often true if there is background noise competing. Understanding speech is the foundation of good communication, and there's no better reason to seek hearing treatment.

Research has shown that wearing two hearing aids makes for a more thorough discussion to understand sound better. The study concluded a noticeable improvement in sound quality, clarity, and higher speech discrimination test scores for subjects with two hearing aids compared to those who wore hearing aids in only one ear.


Knowing where sound is coming from.

Knowing which direction a sound is coming from, or sound localization, is something people with average hearing take for granted. We learn to turn our heads toward sounds, toys, and voices from birth. We’ve mastered this skill. Finding the source of sound is helpful in everyday life, but it can also be essential in defending oneself.

Our two ears work in delicate harmony to make localization easy, and people with single-sided deafness can affirm having difficulty with this skill. So to improve localization, the first requirement is binaural cues from wearing two hearing aids.


Setting the proper amplification is easy.

Wearing two hearing aids provides binaural summation. Binaural summation is when a listener senses greater intensity (volume) of sound when both ears are presented with a stimulus simultaneously compared to hearing the stimulus in either ear alone.

This phenomenon is also associated with an improved ability to distinguish frequencies and speech understanding in diverse noise situations.

Neither of your two devices will require the power output or be turned up as high as a single device attempting to do the work of two. In this manner, it can help you conserve hearing aid batteries and may even suggest you can wear small hearing aids since not as much power is needed.


But when can one hearing aid be best used?

Research suggests that for people with cognitive delays or dementia, one hearing aid may work better than two. Two hearing aids over-stimulate the brain and auditory pathways making it more complicated for the user.

If you have normal hearing in one ear and mild hearing loss in the other, you're probably OK to wear one hearing aid. But remember to get regular hearing tests to ensure your "good ear" is still hearing well.

So it is still best to ask your audiologist or hearing doctor for advice. It is also best to do a trial and error and see which is ideal and best for your lifestyle. At Listening Lab Singapore, you can take a hearing test to determine your hearing level. If you aren't sure whether or not you need to wear two hearing aids (or one for single-sided hearing) or are curious about the best type of hearing aids for you, visit one of our hearing clinics in Singapore today.

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