Are TWO Hearing Aids Better than ONE? | Binaural Hearing

By: Dr Cliff Olson
May 8, 2019
Video Transcript

Back in the day, well before my time as an audiologist, it used to be considered unethical to fit someone with bilateral hearing loss, with two hearing aids.  Fortunately, research prevailed and proved that 2 hearing aids are almost always better than

1.  This is for a variety of reasons.1. Reduced hearing difficulty on both sides - If you have a hearing loss in two ears, and you only have a hearing aid in one ear, you will always have to orient your aided ear towards the person talking to you. This may not seem like a big deal until you become exhausted or find yourself in a situation where you can't control which direction sound is coming from.  

2. Binaural Summation - This is the increased perception of loudness when wearing 2 hearing aids.  This allows your hearing care provider to reduce the prescription for your hearing loss, making it easier to hit prescriptive targets, often resulting in better speech clarity as well.

3. Better speech understanding in calm situations - When we test Word Recognition Scores in individual ears, and these scores are below 100%, we almost always see an increase in scores when both ears are tested together. This means that when both ears participate in a task, you can understand speech more clearly, because your brain has more information to work with.

4. Better Sound Localization - Your ability to determine where sound is coming from has to do with the timing difference between when a sound is heard by one ear and then heard by the other ear.  It is possible that with only one aided ear, you may have difficulty identifying where sounds are coming from.  5. Binaural Squelch - This is when your brain uses information from both ears to determine which ear has the better Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).  The bigger the SNR, the better you will be able to hear in background noise.

Two hearing aids give your brain more information that is ear dependent so it can figure out which side to focus on.  However, there are some situations where two hearing aids are NOT better than one.1. If you have normal hearing in one ear - In this case, you would only need to amplify the opposite ear, assuming it has an aidable hearing loss. AND2.

If you have Single Sided Deafness (SSD) - In this case, you may do better with a CROS, BiCROS, AmpCROS, or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA).  Check out my SSD video here: https://youtu.be/16LC2FYu1-UAt the end of the day, two hearing aids will always cost more than one, but the benefits should significantly outweigh the cost as long as your hearing care professional follows Best Practices: https://youtu.be/4F1pkDhb8ys

Dr. Cliff's Thoughts
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