If your Doctor of Audiology tells you that you need two hearing aids, it’s best to follow his or her advice and not sell yourself short. In order to improve your ability to hear correctly and respond appropriately, it is generally ill-advised to wear only one hearing instrument and expect it to do the work of two.
Optimal hearing enlists the help of both ears. Not only does hearing well with both ears require less effort and allow you to enjoy a richer, more natural sound quality, but more importantly, your brain relies upon information from both ears in order to localize sound.
Localization (knowing where the sound came from) is only possible with two ears. Localization is not just a sound quality issue; it may also be a safety issue. Think about how important it is to know where warning and safety sounds (sirens, screams, babies crying, etc.) are coming from. Using both ears together (binaural listening) also impacts how well you hear in noise because it allows you to selectively attend to the desired signal, while “squelching” or paying less attention to undesired sounds, such as background noises.
Your auditory (hearing) system possesses an innate “use it or lose it” characteristic. Research has shown that if both ears are in need of hearing aids but only one ear is aided, the hearing ability of the unaided ear can start to deteriorate. The hearing nerve on the unaided side begins to lose its ability to correctly relay sound to the brain for processing. As a result, overtime the ability to understand speech begins to degrade. If neglected for long, this degradation may not be reversible.
Your hearing deserves good care. Although two hearing aids cost more than one, the benefits of having both ears aided if needed is a small price to pay for years of an improved quality of life.
“When you lose your eyesight, you lose contact with things. When you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.” Helen Keller