One Hearing Aid or Two: Which is Better?

People calling in for the first time sometimes ask us ‘why do you only sell hearing aids in pairs’. Our answer is ‘because we want to improve your overall hearing, and besides, at the price it’s hardly worth quibbling’.

However, there’s a deeper reason we don’t supply only one hearing aid. That reason has to do with ‘binaural hearing’, which in headline terms, means listening with two ears. This is a key input allowing us to determine the source and direction of sound.

Your Hearing Deteriorates in Both Ears

It’s extremely unusual to find a client with hearing loss only in one ear. Although one side is usually more severe than the other, much the same way as sight in one eye is usually weaker. Our ears work in pairs sending signals to our brains. This dual information helps our brains interpret the sounds.

Why Your Ears Are On the Side of Your Head

Our brains need to understand where a sound is coming from, to make full sense of the information. You need to know which person in a group is speaking, so you can focus on them. Or if you like which side is the goods train is coming from.

The shape of your head, and the location of your ears ensures the signals coming from them are slightly different. If you had only one hearing aid you could deprive your brain of some of this key information. This would be because you are not benefiting fully from dual binaural hearing data, and are struggling to understand conversation.

Sound Location and the Cone of Confusion

Our brains depend on interaural time differences to identify where sounds are coming from. These are the time intervals between when a sound enters one ear, and when it enters the other ear. We discover three things from this principle:

  • A sound coming to us from the left will enter our left ear a split second before it enters our right ear
  • If sound transmission is weaker in one ear than the other, it will affect this inter-aural time difference
  • A pair of balanced hearing aids working together can help restore binaural hearing which one hearing aid could not.

Most humans are able to locate sources of sounds, using interaural time and intensity differences. They can therefore determine whether a sound comes from ahead, behind, or one side. However, they can draw a blank if the interaural time difference is zero, because the ears are equidistant from the source.  Audiologists call this the cone of confusion, but nature has a solution for this too.

Next time you notice a hard hearing person tilt their head slightly, or cup their ear to hear better. You will know they are removing the ambiguity, by shifting the cone so their brains can interpret a sound more clearly.

That’s Why One Hearing Aid Will Not Solve Your Problem

 A single hearing aid cannot by definition correct your hearing loss, unless the other ear is perfect which is statistically very unlikely. You will still have difficulty understanding conversations, because you won’t know who the words come from in time to comprehend them fully.

This is why Blue Angels only sells hearing aids in matched pairs able to help restore binaural hearing to an acceptable level. Next time you see a single hearing aid advertised on the web, ask yourself the question ‘is this really a hearing aid. Will it actually make it easier for me to communicate?’ 

Three Advantages from Purchasing Hearing Aids in Pairs

A pair of matched hearing aids helps you leverage the way your brain processes sound. That’s because they adjust the signals reaching your ears so they are similar strength. This restores your binaural hearing to a functional level.

  1. Your brain can identify important sounds like voices, because they are louder according to Harvard Health. However, if you only had one hearing aid you could lack this capacity. Your brain could struggle to hear the person speaking, because their voice was softer than surrounding sound.
  2. Your brain is also able to identify the direction of the sound, and the speaker. You can then focus on that person, and follow the non-verbal cues underpinning all conversation. Things make sense when you are ‘in the conversation’.
  3. There’s evidence, again from Harvard Health that two hearing aids can help conserve hearing in the weaker ear. That’s because it stimulates the auditory nerve by amplifying signals. Many parts of our nervous system – including our brain - do suffer from lack of stimulation and use.

And Now for Some Really Great News

The Blue Angels sale is still running for a short while longer. Our matched pairs of rechargeable hearing aids are still available at remarkable prices you will struggle to find elsewhere.

You can improve your binaural hearing and rejoin conversation in a matter of days if you order now. Or you could keep straining to understand what people are saying until you did. Now tell us, which option makes more sense?!