Are Two Hearing Aids Better Than One?

In Hearing Aids by Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD

Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD

Dr. Maya Berenson was previously the director at The New York Hearing Center affiliated with NYOG. She was also formerly Chief of Audiology at Metropolitan Hospital where she received extensive training in pediatric audiology. Dr. Berenson earned her doctorate degree in clinical audiology from The Long Island Consortium comprised of Hofstra University, Adelphi University and St. John’s University. She completed her fellowship at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Dr. Maya Berenson, AuD

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Perhaps you have reached a point where you are ready to confront your hearing problems. However, you’re not sure if you should go with one hearing aid or two. One hearing aid will cost you less, and if it performs as good as two hearing aids, then you might as well save your money.

How Does One Hearing Aid Compare to Two?

Under most circumstances, audiologists will recommend that you get two if you have hearing loss in both ears. Audiologists call this bilateral hearing loss, and studies suggest that using hearing aids can prevent cognitive decline. One study suggests that those who lose their hearing have a higher risk of cognitive decline.

Your audiologist will most likely program each of the hearing aids on a separate basis. They will try to match the levels of amplification to make the hearing as normal as possible. Nevertheless, it is normal for someone to experience hearing loss at different levels in each ear.

Stimulating Brain Activity

As the saying goes, “Use it or lose it.” Your ears might not be muscles, but studies have found that when your ears get deprived of sound, the auditory nerve pathways that were normally used begin to deteriorate. This renders the brain less effective. Over time, this can make it harder for your brain to decode the sound, which will only accelerate the rate through which you can’t hear. Audiologists have called this auditory deprivation.

When you wear two hearing aids, each ear will pick up sound, and this gives it the stimulus to continue working properly. All of these things are necessary for peak performance of your ears. When researchers looked at a study done between two hearing aids and one, what they learn was how someone who only used one hearing aid had a much faster rate of hearing loss than someone who had both of them.

Why Does Someone’s Other Senses Seem to Improve When One Goes Down?

Most likely, you have heard it said how someone who has no vision can hear better, or someone who can’t hear can see better. Studies have shown how when someone can’t hear, the part of the brain normally devoted to hearing will then have it taken over by other sense like vision, touch and smell. As a result, they will experience these senses as more intense than the other senses. This compensates for the loss of hearing. Many people have reported this as happening.

Higher Risk of Dementia?

Losing your hearing can lead to a higher risk of dementia, according to researchers. Scientists looked at this, and they found how the loss of hearing was directly related to a higher risk of dementia. If someone had a mild loss of hearing, they had two times the risk. Moderate loss meant three times the risk, and severe loss meant that someone had five times the risk of developing dementia. Not only did this have an impact on memory, researchers also learned how concentration declined faster in those who had hearing loss, in comparison to older adults who had regular hearing.

Better Understanding with Two Hearing Aids

When you only wear one hearing aid, many people report how the sound doesn’t come in as clear. You might try to use your good ear because of how you can’t make out the words, otherwise. Having two hearing aids will help to make the sound much clearer. This ensures that you don’t experience cognitive decline, and at the same time, you will hear the conversations better than if you only had one hearing aid.

Let’s say that you don’t know if you should use one hearing aid or two hearing aids. You will have to speak with an audiologist who can give you a further update on whether you should use one hearing aid or two, but in cases where you have bilateral hearing loss, they will usually recommend that you get two hearing aids. If you have regular hearing in one ear and mild hearing loss in the other, however, you will most likely be fine with only one hearing aid. Nevertheless, you will want to get regular tests because the doctors can ensure that your good ear continues to do well. If you have hearing loss, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible.