One hearing aid or two hearing aids?

You may be surprised to learn that if you have a hearing loss in both ears then it is likely that two hearing aids are better than one hearing aid. If you are fitted with two hearing aids this is sometimes called a binaural fitting.

Why are two hearing aids usually better than one hearing aid? There are several reasons, and these reasons include:

  1. Many people find that if they wear two hearing aids that they can turn down the volume of both hearing aids (if you have that option, some hearing aids are issued without the option to control the volume). They have found that when they wear only one hearing aid they need to turn the volume higher.
  2. Many people find that two hearing aids are more helpful than one hearing aid when there is background noise.
  3. People usually find that they can what direction a sound or a voice is coming from if they wear two hearing aids rather than one.
  4. Providing that the aids have been appropriately fitted and balanced it may mean that the wearer no longer has a good ear and a bad ear and so it does not matter so much which side the speaker sits.
  5. Some researchers say that wearing two hearing aids means that the brain remains practised in interpreting sound from both ears. Whereas if only one hearing aid is worn then the brain loses the capacity to interpret sound from the unaided ear because there is a lack of stimulation from that ear. Since some people may lose additional hearing it means that if they want to wear a hearing aid in their unaided ear at a later stage then it can take months and months of practice to get used to a second aid.
  6. Many people find that a sudden loud sound can be less of a problem with two hearing aids rather than with one hearing aid. This is because they have the volume on both hearing aids turned down lower than if they were wearing only one hearing aid.
  7. Another advantage of the lower volume is that there is less likelihood of distortion or feedback (whistling).

For people who have a hearing loss on both sides but where the hearing loss is too great on one side to benefit from a hearing aid, some hospitals give what they call a CROS or a BiCROS aid whereby the sound from the ear which does not hear is routed across to the other ear.