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Do I need a hearing aid for both ears?

If you have hearing loss in only one ear or nearly normal hearing in the other, then one hearing is all you need. However, most people have hearing loss in both ears, especially if the loss is age-related. You may have one ear that’s better than the other, but often both ears will have similar hearing loss.

There are many reasons why two hearing aids are better than one when you have a loss in both ears. Some of these include:

  • Improved ability to locate the source of sounds. This can also improve safety. When you hear with only one ear, the difficulty in locating a sound can be dangerous, especially on the road.
  • Improved hearing in noisy environments. In the same way that your brain uses sounds from both ears to get information about direction, it also uses information from both ears to filter out unimportant information and focus on important information. By using speech and noise coming through both ears and comparing them against each other, our brain can work out what conversation we are trying to listen to and focus on that while simultaneously filtering out the background noise or other conversations that are competing for our attention.
  • Reducing the volume needed to hear. Wearing two hearing aids allows an effect called binaural summation. This is when a listener hears a sound at a greater volume when both ears hear a signal together compared to when either ear hears a signal by itself. Binaural summation also helps to discriminate frequencies and improves speech understanding, no matter if you’re in noise or in quiet. When your brain has an increased perception of volume from wearing two hearing aids, it means the hearing aids themselves do not have to do so much work. The hearing aids can be programmed with less gain and power settings than if you are wearing one aid. This can assist in listening comfort and increase your battery life as the hearing aid does not need to draw so much power.
  • Reduced listening effort and fatigue.
  • More effectively masking tinnitus. Tinnitus is often linked with hearing loss so hearing aids can reduce or eliminate the perception of it.
Updated on February 8, 2023

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