This is a question that comes up at nearly every hearing aid evaluation appointment in our office. While there are definite situations where a single hearing aid (monaural fitting) will be recommended – the vast majority of people with hearing loss in both ears will benefit from amplification in both ears (binaural fitting). We have two ears for some very good reasons: there are levels of the auditory system which receive information from both ears and provide our brains with valuable information. Here are some of the proven reasons why two ears are better than one.
- Significantly better understanding of speech. Research shows that people wearing two hearing aids routinely understand speech significantly better than people wearing one hearing aid.
- Much better understanding in background noise (e.g.groups/crowds) – see the figure at the top of this post to see how much better 2 hearing aids perform compared to one.
- Better ability to tell where sounds are coming from (better localization)
- Better and more natural sound quality.
- Keeps both ears active resulting in potentially less hearing deterioration ( the auditory deprivation effect or ‘use it or lose it’)
- Hearing is less tiring and listening more pleasant.
- Binaural hearing results in a feeling of balanced reception of sound whereas monaural hearing creates an unusual feeling of sounds being heard in one ear.
- Reduced feedback and whistling. Allows for lower volume control settings which reduces the chances of hearing aid feedback.
Research clearly shows that consumers prefer and are more satisfied with two hearing aids compared to one. Just as you use both eyes to see clearly, you need two ears to hear clearly. While there are certainly situations where one hearing aid will be recommended, the vast majority of people will benefit greatly by wearing hearing aids in each ear.