One hearing aid or two?

Wondering if you can wear one hearing aid instead of two? In the past it was common for people to only wear one aid, so why is my audiologist recommending two?

We have two ears for a reason, just like we have two eyes. Our brain is wired to use input from both ears to evaluate sounds in our environment, decipher where sounds are located, and focus on what we want to hear. For this, and other reasons, whenever possible it is important to preserve ‘binaural hearing’ or hearing through two ears.

  • If your hearing loss is similar in both ears, we generally recommend wearing two hearing aids. Occasionally people have one ear that is much better or much worse, speech clarity is compromised in one ear, or due to a physical issue it is only possible to wear one hearing aid. However, most people hear better with two hearing aids. After a full evaluation, your audiologist will tell you if there are any reasons to consider wearing only one hearing aid or if you need two.
  • In the past, hearing aids were a lot bigger and heavier on the ear than modern hearing aids so it was more common for people to wear only one. Hearing aids back then blocked the ear and caused the ear to feel plugged and your voice to echo. Many people could only tolerate wearing one aid. The good news is modern hearing aids are much smaller, lighter and often only have a thin tube or dome in the ear. It is now very comfortable to wear two hearing aids and gain the benefit of both ears working together.
  • Many modern hearing aids have features that work ear-to-ear such a volume controls, noise reduction, and directional microphones. The hearing aids share information and talk to each other! So, only wearing one hearing aid can mean you lose access to these specialized features.
  • Your brain hears better in noisy situations with both ears working together. So, you get better value for your money if you wear two hearing aids.
  • You need two ears to ‘localize’ or to know where sounds are coming from. Similar to how you need two eyes for depth perception.
  • Data suggests wearing one hearing aid can cause a loss of speech clarity in the un-aided ear. In other words, if you don’t use it, you can lose it. Hearing is good for your brain!
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