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Should I Wear One Hearing Aid or Two?

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.

Bottom line - yes, it is worth investigating. 

You were born with two ears because you need two ears, the same is true for your eyes, arms, legs and kidneys. If the question is ''Can I get by with one?'' the answer is ''Yes.''

However, you would be hard pressed to find anyone with one eye (kidney, leg, arm, etc,) who tells us that one is better than two! Likewise, people who have lost hearing in one ear will tell you it is VERY difficult to get by one with 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 ear transforms sounds from acoustic energy to mechanical energy, to hydraulic energy and then finally into bio-electric signals that the BRAIN interprets as 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 born with only one ''normal'' ear and one ear that doesn't hear, are at a terrific disadvantage regarding academics. For example, one study from about ten years ago showed that children with a unilateral hearing loss (one ear that hears well, one that does not hear at all) were TEN TIMES more likely to repeat a grade, as compared to children with two normal hearing ears.

So the bottom line is YES - two ears are better than one. Of course, there are exceptions, and there are certainly times when hearing healthcare professionals recommend fitting only one ear for a variety of reasons. But in general, fitting both ears with amplification provides a much better sound quality, a better quality of life, and makes it much easier to understand speech.

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