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    Do I Really Need Two Hearing Aids?

    This is a question that comes up at nearly every hearing aid evaluation appointment in our Brandon, MB clinic. If you have hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss), then you are most likely a candidate for two hearing aids.  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. The easiest analogy to make is to vision – when is the last time you saw someone walking around wearing a monocle on only one eye? The reason is quite simple, we have 2 eyes for a reaon – our brain needs the information from both eyes to interpret what the eyes are picking up (e.g. 2 eyes are required to tell us how far an object is in front of us). Your ears are no different. There are levels of the auditory system which take information from both ears, compare them, and provide our brains with valuable information. Here are some of the proven reasons why 2 ears are better than one (from The Better Hearing Institute: www.betterhearing.org): 

    Better understanding of speech. By wearing two hearing aids rather than one, selective listening is more easily achieved. This means your brain can focus on the conversation you want to hear. Research shows that people wearing two hearing aids routinely understand speech and conversation significantly better than people wearing one hearing aid.

    • Better understanding in group and noisy situations. Speech intelligibility is improved in difficult listening situations when wearing two hearing aids. (See graph below) 
    • Better ability to tell the direction of sound. This is called localization. In a social gathering, for example, localization allows you to hear from which direction someone is speaking to you. Also, localization helps you determine from which direction traffic is coming or where your children or grandchildren are playing. Simply put, with binaural hearing, you will better detect where sounds are coming from in every situation.
    • Better sound quality. When you listen to a stereo system, you use both speakers to get the smoothest, sharpest, most natural sound quality. The same can be said of hearing aids. By wearing two hearing aids, you increase your hearing range from 180 degrees reception with just one instrument, to 360 degrees. This greater range provides a better sense of balance and sound quality.
    • Smoother tone quality. Wearing two hearing aids generally requires less volume than one. The need for less volume results in less distortion and better reproduction of amplified sounds
    • Wider hearing range. A person can hear sounds from a further distance with two ears, rather than just one. A voice that's barely heard at 10 feet with one ear can be heard up to 40 feet with two ears.
    • Better sound identification. Often, with just one hearing aid, many noises and words sound alike. But with two hearing aids, as with two ears, sounds are more easily distinguishable
    • Keeps both ears active resulting in potentially less hearing loss deterioration. Research has shown that when only one hearing aid is worn, the unaided ear tends to lose its ability to hear and understand. This is clinically called the auditory deprivation effect. Wearing two hearing aids keeps both ears active.
    • Less Strain: Hearing is less tiring and listening more pleasant. More binaural hearing aid wearers report that listening and participating in conversation is more enjoyable with two instruments, instead of just one. This is because they do not have to strain to hear with the better ear. Thus, binaural hearing can help make life more relaxing.
    • Feeling of balanced hearing. Two-eared hearing results in a feeling of balanced reception of sound, also known as the stereo effect, whereas monaural hearing creates an unusual feeling of sounds being heard in one ear.
    • Greater comfort when loud noises occur. A lower volume control setting is required with two hearing aids than is required with one hearing aid. The result is a better tolerance of loud sounds.
    • Reduced feedback and whistling. With a lower volume control setting the chances of hearing aid feedback is reduced
    • Consumer preference. An overwhelming majority of consumers who have hearing loss in both ears, choose two hearing aids over one, when given the choice to hear binaurally.
    • Customer satisfaction. Research with more than 5,000 consumers with hearing loss in both ears demonstrated that binaurally fit subjects are more satisfied than people fit with one hearing aid.

    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 from hearing aids in each ear.