Why do I need two hearing aids?

Some people look at the price of hearing aids and ask, ‘why do I need two hearing aids?’ With two hearing aids you will generally enjoy a range of benefits that include hearing quality and comfort as well as mental health. And the benefits of wearing two hearing aids usually far outweigh the cost of your investment.

For some people, one hearing aid is sufficient. For example, people who have hearing loss in only one ear usually benefit from a single hearing aid to balance up the sounds from the good ear.

Unfortunately, hearing loss commonly affects both ears. Approximately one in eight people suffer from hearing loss in both ears. This rises to around 18% of adults who experience hearing loss in both ears due to high workplace noise levels.

Research from the Better Hearing Institute shows that people who wear two hearing aids experience a much more satisfactory listening experience overall than those who only wear one hearing aid.

Benefits of two hearing aids may include:

  • Improved sense of localisation
  • Greater sound clarity
  • Reduction of tinnitus
  • Less interference from background noise
  • Better mental and emotional health
  • Maintenance of current hearing health

There is no one size fits all solution for hearing loss. Your specific type and degree of hearing loss requires an approach that suits your unique needs. That’s why you need an audiologist who will take the time to help understand your hearing loss and work with you to find the best solution for your situation.

Let’s explore in more detail just why two hearing aids are usually better than one.

Better localisation

Humans have two ears for a good reason; they help us to locate where noises are coming from. This ability to locate sounds has been important to humans over the millennia for hunting success and survival.

The ability to locate the direction sounds are coming from is still important today. Wearing two hearing aids can play a vital role in your ability to locate sounds. This localisation ability helps you know where to turn when people are talking to you from different parts of the room.

People who wear only one hearing aid often find that speech sounds blend together making it hard to work out who’s saying what. Wearing two hearing aids can offer much greater speech comprehension because you’re not missing out on important words while your brain struggles to work out where to turn.

Two hearing aids increase your ease and confidence in group settings. They can also enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors and help promote your safety and awareness of what’s going on around you on the street.

Greater clarity at lower volume

Two hearing aids can provide much greater clarity because the brain is able to process sounds from both sides. This means you can also set your hearing aids at lower volume levels for a more natural sound.

If you can lower the volume of your hearing aids, you not only reduce any distortion of the sound but your listening experience will be more comfortable and you will understand speech more easily. Research indicates that two hearing aids can provide 5% or more improvement in speech comprehension.

Reduce the impact of tinnitus

Studies show that 60% of tinnitus sufferers find significant relief with hearing aids. Tinnitus can be really irritating and exhausting. Experts believe tinnitus is the result of the brain trying to fill in the gaps in your hearing with internal noise. With two hearing aids providing balanced hearing you can experience a significant reduction in tinnitus.

A single hearing aid often does not reduce tinnitus in the same way because it cannot fill in all the gaps in your hearing. In simple terms, your brain isn’t getting all the information it needs with only one hearing aid so a single hearing aid may not give you any relief from your tinnitus.

Cope better with background noise

Background noise can play havoc with your ability to understand speech. As we’ve already seen, two hearing aids with directional microphones offer a clearer, richer sound quality and also help you to locate sounds more clearly. This enables you to filter out background noise more effectively and to focus on the sounds you really want to hear. The result is a more comfortable and less tiring listening experience.

Enhance mental health

A growing amount of research indicates a strong connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline and some forms of dementia. Hearing plays a vital role in providing mental stimulation and the maintenance of healthy brain function.

Wearing two hearing aids promotes the complex interplay of both sides of the brain as it processes a wider variety of sounds. It’s this constant mental stimulation from your environment that promotes healthy brain function.

Maintain hearing health

You may not know this but wearing two hearing aids can also help you maintain the hearing levels you still have. Studies have shown that people who wear only one hearing aid may experience what is known as ‘auditory deprivation’.

Auditory deprivation is where the ear health deteriorates because of a lack of stimulation. It’s a little like the ‘use it or lose it’ challenge with muscle development.  As a result, over time, the ear loses its ability to distinguish speech sounds.

One study showed that 25% of test subjects wearing only one hearing aid experienced this reduction in speech recognition. On the other hand, only 6% of people wearing two hearing aids demonstrated any decline in speech recognition.

So, there you have some really solid benefits for wearing two hearing aids. Of course, not everyone needs to wear two hearing aids so talk to your House of Hearing audiologist about your needs. And don’t be put off by the myths around the cost of hearing aids. We’re here to make better hearing a real and affordable part of your life.