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5 Reasons Why Two Hearing Aids Work Better Than One

Often we hear the phrase “less is more”, find out if that pertains to the number of hearing aids you should wear when faced with hearing loss.


Hi, I’m Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I’m joined today by Dr. Adriana Martineau, Dr. Ashly Wilcox, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area’s highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Great to see you both.

Thanks for being here. Thank you.

All right so today we’re talking about five reasons why two hearing aids work better than one. Now you would think that’s kind of obvious but I know you guys get this question a lot. Why can’t I just have one? So let’s go over these these five reasons.

Better understanding of speech in background noise. Adriana.

Yeah so even people of normal hearing actually have a lot of difficulty in background noise. So when you go out into social environments that competing noise in the background is even hard to understand speech in those environments. And then when you put a hearing loss on top of it
um it makes it even more difficult for people. So that’s why two ears is always better than one. So you would want to aid both of them. Yeah and obvious places like a restaurant. Yeah or or even a shopping mall, that kind of thing. And obviously with the hearing is uh going to make it tougher if you’ve already got some hearing loss.

All right so number two. A better ability to tell where sounds are coming from. This seems extremely important to me. Ashly.

Yeah, so one of the reasons is safety. So we need to know where sounds are coming from. If they’re over on the right side, the left side, or behind us. So with two hearing aids we’re aiding both of the ears so they’re both getting the input that they should. If we were to only have one hearing aid and two ears that both have hearing loss, one ear is doing all the work. So it’s not going to know exactly where that sound is coming from. So there’s spatial issues there? Yes. Yeah, yeah. There’s something called the head shadow effect. I don’t know if you’ve heard that term before. But when say signal is coming in on the right side, it’s going to hit the right ear first and then our head acts as a shadow. So there’s a little bit of a gap and then it reaches our left ear. We need two ears working about the same in order for that head shadow effect to really work. So if we only had one hearing aid it’s it’s not it’s all going to be thrown off. Right and I I would imagine that some people have worse hearing loss in one ear than the other. But you still want the hearing aid in both ears for that for that very reason.

All right. Avoid deterioration of hearing in the unaided ear. Now that seems pretty obvious to me too. Yes. Adriana.

Yeah. So that is one of the biggest questions that people have when they come in is, well do I need two hearing aids? If you have hearing loss in both your ears we highly recommend two hearing aids. Because if you aid one ear and then let’s say you aid your right ear and you don’t want to aid your left ear. What’s happening in that left ear when it’s unaided is is actually auditory deprivation. So your auditory system isn’t receiving any of that those auditory cues. Therefore it’s more apt to deteriorate faster than the right would. So you’re creating yourself a bigger problem by not aiding both ears at the same time. Exactly. Yeah. And again that’s one of those things that you would think would be obvious but I guess not a lot of people understand that.

Um. Better reception of sounds from both sides. And I does that allude back to the previous one we talked about where sounds are coming from? Or is this a different matter altogether?

It’s all kind of the same. Um they all kind of play back on each other. It that comes back to the localization of the sounds and then when there’s presence of background noise you’re always just going to hear better with two ears. So we were given two ears for a reason and we need to aid both of them especially if there’s a hearing loss in both of the ears. Um so yeah we just know that overall two ears are better than one and our speech perception is going to be better when we have the two hearing aids.

I I guess a lot of people have just sort of that, oh gosh I have this deficiency I don’t want to I don’t want to you know show people that I have hearing aids and that kind of thing. But that’s not as big a deal anymore is it? I mean because with all the different types of hearing aids there are. Yeah yeah. Definitely. Yeah and there’s multiple styles of hearing aids now. Um there’s invisible ones in the ears and then the ones behind the ear oftentimes aren’t as visible as people think that they are. Because people aren’t really paying attention to our ears. Um so it’s really, it’s really more invisible than you would think it would be. Yeah a lot more discreet than if you think back to even 50 years ago um what the hearing aids looked like then. So definitely moving to a more smaller, discreet look with better technology um and better that means better speech understanding. Yeah.

All right. And then number five. Wearing two hearing aids is less tiring. How is that so?

Yeah so kind of going back to what Dr. Wilcox was saying earlier, um, if you wear one hearing aid and you have a hearing loss in both your ears one ear is going to be doing the majority of the work. Because you’re only aiding one ear. So what that means is that towards the end of the day after you’ve been in a complex listening environment or even if you’re just you know in an office environment your your brain becomes very fatigued over the day. Because I mean you’re only listening with one ear and we were we were born with two. So we want to utilize both of them. Uh so we have double trouble then? Yeah. If you’re only having not only is it deteriorating the other ear that you’re not aiding but you’re actually having an effect on your brain overall and you’re you’re just your whole physical condition. Yes. Definitely. Wow. So two hearing aids are better than one. It’s a pretty simple lesson in this podcast today. Ashly, Adriana thank you so much for your time with us today. Thank you. Thank you.

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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).


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