When To Get Just ONE Hearing Aid

January 24, 2019

“Do I need one or two hearing aids?” Maybe you’ve wondered this as have some of my patients.

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“Do I need one or two hearing aids?”  Maybe you’ve wondered this as have some of my patients.  The short answer that I usually give is, “Absolutely, one hearing aid is a good solution if you only have one ear that needs help or one ear that can be helped."  

Remember, hearing aids don’t fix the ear, they help the hearing that you have.  Thus, there has to be some usable hearing for hearing aids to be helpful, although there are a few exceptions.  So bottom line, where possible, two ear balanced hearing is best.  Let me explain why. Number one, balanced sound just feels best. In fact, in so many areas of our lives, balance feels right, and when it comes to hearing, that's because we have two ears.  

Our hearing system includes the two ears with their own nerve pathways that send separate signals for the brain to analyze and compare. Second, balanced hearing helps our sense of direction.  When you instinctively turn your head toward a sound, it’s because the sound has hit the closest hear a little louder and faster than the farther one.  This difference is volume and timing is what the brain uses to determine where the sound came from. Third, balanced hearing helps you focus on one sound while trying to tune out others.  For example, you're at a party with lots of background noise and you're trying to focus on the one voice of your friend.  

The brain again compares the subtle differences of sound from both ears to help you focus. Admittedly, these environments are always difficult for most people.  Hearing loss, especially when unbalanced, makes the challenge all the worse. Fourth, balanced hearing gives the best overall sense of volume. If you plug one ear, you'll notice that your sense of volume drops a little.  Again, the brain kind of adds the signals from both ears together giving you better overall hearing.

So there you go, balanced hearing is best...most of the time.  One thing that's really cool about the way we work at our clinic is how our test drive process helps you explore and compare.  For the small number of clients where one hearing aid might actually be the best solution, you are able to experiment before you actually own them to see for yourself what is right for you.  You don’t have to just take my word for it.

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