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Do I really need 2 hearing aids? - Hearing Aids for Both Ears - Including hearing aids for 1 ear

By: Paul Harrison Updated: 6th September 2021 in: Hearing Aid Advice, Latest News, Articles
Do I really need 2 hearing aids?

Hearing Aids for Both Ears

Do you need hearing aids for both ears?

One hearing aid or two?

You might be wondering "Do I really need two hearing aids?".

If you are considering hearing aids but are uncertain as to whether or not you need two then this information may be of use. The vast majority of people with a hearing loss suffer from impairment to both ears. Having a hearing loss in one ear only is quite rare and usually requires a medical referral. 

When someone is being referred to me by a GP - I am assuming that the person actually has a hearing loss in both ears.  This is generally because most people have hearing loss in both ears - even more so if the hearing loss is age-related.

 

Hearing aids in both ears

When choosing spectacles, nobody in their right mind would tell their optician to put the plain glass on one side so why question a hearing aid audiologist? One reason may be the cost involved. An average hearing aid costs around £1000 and obviously having two aids doubles this cost.

Historically the NHS used to provide one hearing aid to most people unless their hearing loss was more severe. The public’s perception was therefore that only people with particularly bad hearing need two hearing aids. Gladly this is no longer the case and most patients are now fitted with two hearing aids.

 

Why two hearing aids are better than one

Apart from the obvious need for amplification to each impaired ear, there are several other significant reasons why two hearing aids are better than one – assuming the person has a hearing loss in both ears:

 

Localisation

The brain decodes information from both ears and compares and contrasts them. By analysing the minuscule time delays as well as the difference in the loudness of each sound reaching the ears enables the person to accurately locate a sound source.

Being able to accurately locate the direction of a sound is very useful in everyday life in a whole host of situations. Perhaps a more scary disadvantage of poor localisation is safety when crossing a road.

 

Less amplification required

"Binaural summation” means that the hearing aids can be set at a lower volume setting than wearing one hearing aid.

 

Head shadow effect

If you’re really only hearing on one side and someone tries to speak to you on your “bad side” then it’s quite impractical and perhaps embarrassing to try to turn your head 180 degrees.

 

Noise reduction

The brain has its own built-in noise reduction which is much more effective when it is receiving information from both ears. Essentially, background noise, which is the scourge of the hearing aid wearer is actually exacerbated by wearing only one hearing instrument.

 

Sound quality

It goes without saying that stereo sound is better than mono so why would anyone want to compromise on such an important sense?

There are other benefits to binaural hearing but these are the main ones. If your hearing aid audiologist has recommended two hearing aids then they have done so for good reason. Don’t think they’re just trying to make a double sale.

Hearing Aids for Both Ears

The benefits of wearing hearing aids for both ears - At a glance:

 

  • Two hearing aids fully stimulate your brain.
  • You're at less risk of auditory deprivation with hearing aids for both ears.
  • You will experience a better soundscape and sound quality with two hearing aids.
  • Your hearing aids amplification will not need to be as high.
  • You'll have a greater idea as to which direction sound is coming from.

 

Hearing aids for one ear

Is there any circumstance where you might need hearing aids for one ear only?  There have been some cases when people who are suffering from cognitive decline have still benefited from just wearing one hearing aid.  This is also relevant when the person in mention has hearing loss in both ears.  It is believed that this is due to the brain being too stimulated.

 

I have hearing loss in both ears - Do I really need two hearing aids?

If you think you might have hearing loss in one or both ears and wondering whether you actually need hearing aids in both ears.   Contact us free on 0800 567 7621 for a phone consultation, support and advice going forward.

 

 

Read Next:  Hearing assist rechargeable hearing aid for both ears

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Paul Harrison
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This information was written by Paul Harrison - Audiology Expert

Meet Paul Harrison, Audiology Expert

Managing Director & founder of Hearing Aid UK, with over 20 years of audiology experience and a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists Council (BSHAA) between 2015-2020.

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