It is not an uncommon question or even statement to hear ... “I have to wear two hearing aids?”
New patients, just getting their first set of hearing instruments, often have a mindset when they come into the office that they only need and want one hearing instrument. They have figured out which ear is the worst and they want to correct that ear only. We all have some misconceived notions at one time or another. Hahaha!
So, why should you wear two hearing instruments? If you have a hearing loss in both ears that is correctable with hearing instruments then you indeed correct both ears. A few reasons why:
1. Our ears are just the machine that moves the sounds we hear to our brains. Sounds that we hear using the right ear will cross and go to the left side of the brain. And likewise, what goes in the left will be interpreted using the right side of the brain. Therefore, to stimulate your whole brain you need to correct both ears.
2. Correcting your entire auditory spectrum is very important for speech understanding. While you hear all the letters of the alphabet on both sides of your brain, some sounds or combinations of sounds are actually side specific. In other words, certainly you will receive more speech cues and have better auditory intelligence by wearing hearing instruments in both ears.
3. Two hearing instruments provide better directionality of sound. It is very difficult for the brain to determine direction of sounds and separate all the speech cues if everything comes from the same ear.
4. With improved direction of sound comes more awareness and better balance. You can actually hear your steps. Better direction ... better localization of sounds.
5. This leads to safety. Where is the ambulance coming from? Who is talking from behind you?
6. When you only wear one hearing instrument then the other ear will eventually experience auditory deprivation. (You don’t use it, you may lose it).
7. Hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline. You only have one brain. Do your best to protect and nurture it. Wearing two hearing instruments will provide a much broader range of sounds, more variety. This helps to keep our brains sharp. Variety is the spice of life, right? It keeps ours brains alert and healthy.
8. If you have ringing in your ears or tinnitus, wearing two hearing instruments has a greater impact in reducing tinnitus than just wearing one.
9. Better speech understanding or clarity when you are in background noise. Wearing two instruments automatically allows reduction in the volume or gain that is needed for comfort. Lower volume usually can equate to less distortion of sounds. Thus, better speech understanding.
10. You have two ears to hear with. Each ear has its own function and delivery system with your brain. Can you imagine only getting the vision corrected in just one eye when you need new glasses?
Your hearing is one of your most important senses. It keeps you communicating and enjoying life. Without good hearing you become isolated, lonely, depressed and maybe even a little paranoid. But all of that is avoidable by simply doing the best for your ears and your brain that you can. Yes, you should wear two hearing instruments. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!
Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.