If you or someone you love has hearing loss, you must have found out by now that hearing aids don’t come cheap. Apart from being pretty expensive, they are also not covered by most private insurance companies. This is the kind of situation in which most people become frugal and try to question whether they really need two hearing aids.
Most doctors will tell you that having two hearing aids is better than one. However, when you look at the price, you often wonder whether the second hearing aid is worth all the trouble. Here are some reasons why it’s completely worthwhile to invest in two hearing aids instead of one.
INCREASED OVERALL LOUDNESS
One hearing aid would only increase the sound input from one ear. On the other hand, having two hearing aids would help you gain what is called binaural summation. In simple words, this means that you will receive more loudness from both your ears, providing up to 10 decibels of additional gain to the overall perceived enhancement of sound quality.
HELPS HEARING IN NOISY ENVIRONMENTS
The brain is naturally programmed to hear better in noisy environments when there is input from both ears. This helps the brain decipher what part of the sound is speech and what part is background noise. Therefore, two hearing aids let your brain focus on the speech and ignore the background noise. This makes hearing better even in busy areas.
One of the most important aspects of conversing in a group is localization, which is locating where the sound is coming from. Apart from being essential to survival and safety, better localization also helps you locate the speaker in the room, identify them, turn towards them and finally hear them properly. This property of the brain in considerably augmented by the use of two hearing aids instead of one because information from both the ears can be used to judge the distance, depth and placement of spaces and objects.
BETTER SPEECH INTELLIGIBILITY
Wearing one hearing aid makes things louder on one side, while the sound from the other side is still dull and unamplified. This makes it hard to understand what is being said and decreases the clarity of speech. However, wearing two hearing aids can solve this problem to some extent. An article published in 2006 proves that bilateral amplification from two hearing aids provides speech brightness, clarity, fullness, loudness, nearness, smoothness, fullness, and spaciousness, whereas unilateral amplification does not.
PREVENTS AUDITORY DEPRIVATION
One of the lesser-known benefits of wearing two hearing aids instead of one is the eventual auditory deprivation that occurs in the unaided ear. This happens because when an individual has hearing loss in one ear and leaves it unaided, gradually the hearing in that ear begins to deteriorate and soon it loses its ability to discriminate speech. A study conducted in 1999 shows that nearly 25 percent of people with unilateral fittings demonstrated auditory deprivation in the unaided ear.
If you’re concerned about whether you’ll benefit from two hearing aids instead of one, speak you’re your hearing care provider to ensure you have the right treatment for your hearing loss!