Two Hearing Aids vs. One Hearing Aid
Nature has given us two ears, and naturally, they work best in synch. Moreover, years of research has proven that many people with hearing loss in both ears benefit from binaural fitting. With two hearing instruments in place you will experience improved sound localization, a noticeable improvement in listening when engulfed in a noisy environment, and an increase in overall hearing sensitivity.
Localization Sounds waves surround us and travel from the source to the outer portion of the ear that collects them. Sound then travels to the eardrum, through the bones of your middle ear, and then to the inner ear. Your inner ear is a small snail-shaped organ that transforms sound vibrations into electrical energy which travels to the brain. The brain discerns the source location of the sound, and sounds from our right, left, above, and below arrive at each of our ears at different times and intensities. Although the normal head is less than 12″ wide, our brain is able to instantly calculate the minute difference between the times sounds arrive at both ears. These small differences provide the brain with signals as to which way to turn our head to the sounds around us. Standing on a busy street corner, you may suddenly hear the sound of a car horn. If you are fitted with one hearing instrument you may find yourself turning to the left or right, while with two hearing instruments you would have a better chance of recognizing the source of the sound.
Improved Listening in Noisy Environments
When you hear with both ears, soft speech and low whispers are easier to detect, and your ability to separate speech from background noise also improves. It therefore stands to reason that by wearing hearing instruments in both ears, sounds will have more of a balanced, natural quality.
Improved Hearing Sensitivity
In a card game two of a kind is better than one. The same holds true for ears. Many people tend to turn up the volume on their hearing instruments to compensate; however, adjusting the volume results in sounds that are louder, not clearer. In addition, increasing the volume control can cause uncomfortable feedback from your hearing instrument.
Researchers have determined that, for people of all ages, prolonged auditory inactivity (auditory deprivation) can cause physiological change to the auditory system and result in a loss of ability to recognize speech. Studies have also shown that people with bilateral hearing loss who wear a hearing instrument in one ear are at risk of experiencing a decline in their ability to recognize spoken words (in the unaided ear). This reduced ability generally occurs after two or more years of use of a single hearing instrument. Being fitted with two hearing instruments may be advantageous to many people, whether to guard against auditory deprivation or to enable recovery of function.