It has been recommended that you purchase two hearing aids, but do you really need two? Are two really better than one? Well, that depends, but if you have hearing loss in both ears, this is probably so. Wearing two aids is called “binaural amplification”, while wearing one is called, “monaural amplification”. Binaural amplification has benefits, but not for everybody.
Monaural (one ear) vs. Binaural (two ears) amplification
If you were to decide to only purchase one hearing instrument, typically that aid is worn in the 'better' ear, or the ear that would best benefit from amplification. For those with a hearing loss in both ear, binaural amplification is known to provide the best acoustic experience. There are several advantages to binaural amplification. Binaural amplification
Results in better listening in noisy or echo-y environments, helping understanding with competing sounds.
Eliminates the “head shadow effect”. When listening with only one “good” ear, a listener often tends to turn the good ear closer to the sound source. However, when listening in a large group, this is not always possible. Therefore, the head “shadows” the sound from being received fully at the ear furthest from the sound source. In cases where the good ear ends up being farthest from away great difficulty may be had to hear.
Improves the signal-to-noise ratio. This means that the sound of interest is heard louder than background noise. When listening with two ears, the signal to noise ratio is improved by 2 to 3 dB, making the sound of interest appear much louder than the background noise. This is very important for those who are having difficulty hearing in situations with a lot of background noise. Comprehension can be improved drastically!
Is your hearing loss is not the same on both sides? Maybe you even have normal hearing on one side or no hearing on one side, and just do not see the benefit of having two hearing instruments? There are special types of hearing aid fitting which allow for some of the benefits of binaural amplification.
In cases where there is normal hearing in one ear and an unaidable hearing loss in the other ear (or dead ear/no hearing) a Contralateral Routing of Signal (CROS) hearing aid set could be appropriate. For those with a hearing loss in one ear and an unaidable loss in the other ear, Bilateral Routing of Signal (BICROS) hearing aids would be more appropriate. Essentially, the CROS and BICROS configurations work by picking up sound from the poorer ear, sending that sound on that side in addition to the sound being picked up at the better ear.
Call a hearing healthcare professional today to learn about your options and trial periods for your hearing aids!