Do I really need two hearing aids? Can I get by with just one?
The question of binaural (two ears) amplification comes up in just about every hearing aid and audiology office in the world - every day! It's an excellent question.
You were born with two ears because you need two ears, the same is true for your eyes, arms, legs and kidneys.
People who have lost hearing in one ear will tell you it is VERY difficult to get by using only one ear. The quality and clarity of sound perceived with one ear is simply not as good as two ears. The brain depends on BOTH ears working together to tell the listener where the sound is coming from, how far away the sound is, and to help sort out speech from noise. Additionally, each ear is ''hard wired'' differently to the brain. For example, we know that the right ear is typically the dominant ear for speech sounds and it primarily sends information to the left side of the brain for sound processing and interpretation. Most people think of ''hearing'' as something that happens in the ears, but in reality, the BRAIN interprets the signals from the ears into sound. So, in many respects, we really don't fit the ears with hearing aids, we ultimately fit the brain.
Additionally, we know that children with unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in one ear) are at a terrific disadvantage regarding academics. For example, one study indicated that children who had a unilateral hearing loss were TEN TIMES more likely to repeat a grade, as compared to children with two normal hearing ears. This study indicates to the importance of both ears, and the disadvantage of using just one.
So the bottom line is YES - two ears are better than one. Of course, there are exceptions, and there are certainly times when professionals recommend fitting only one ear for a variety of reasons. But in general, fitting both ears with amplification provides a better sound quality, better hearing noise, better hearing of soft sounds, better ability to tell where sounds are coming from, and higher satisfaction with hearing aids
Can you “get by” with one? Maybe. But chances are you’ll do much better with two.