When it’s time to make a decision about hearing aids, you might wonder, “Do I really need two hearing aids or will one do?”
Is there really a point to spending the money on two hearing aids when your hearing loss only affects one ear? Let’s look at why you might consider getting two hearing aids and when one really is enough.
Temporary Versus Permanent Hearing Loss
This is a critical distinction. Is your hearing loss temporary or permanent? The best person to ask is a qualified medical specialist after getting a full ear exam and maybe a professional hearing test. If you find your hearing loss is due to any of the following situations, chances are it is temporary:
- A wax blockage that can be remedied in a clinical setting
- A side effect of prescription medications
- The common cold, an ear infection or other acute medical condition
- Exposure to a loud noise
Assuming your hearing loss is temporary, your doctor can find a solution that returns it to you. If you’re hearing loss is permanent, though, then your next decision will be regarding hearing aids — but is that one hearing aid or two?
When Should I Consider Getting Two Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are an investment, so It’s tempting to purchase just one and save the expense of a second device. You might want to reconsider, though. There are benefits to getting a hearing aid for each ear, especially if you have some hearing loss in both such as:
- Better clarity and alertness that having two functional ears gives you
- Research suggests that hearing well in both ears lets your brain distinguish between important auditory input and useless background noise
- Two hearing aids help you locate where sound comes from so you can fully tune into the message
- Offers a sense of clarity through balancing incoming stimuli
- Lowers the risk of developing tinnitus
- Decreases the chance of auditory deprivation, in other words, there is a tendency for the function of an unaided ear to decline
What Is Single-Sided Hearing Loss?
Single-sided, or unilateral, hearing loss occurs when you can hear well in one ear and have difficulty in the other.
When Should I Consider Getting One Hearing Aid?
The three primary reasons to purchase just one hearing aid is that you have single-sided hearing loss, you’re completely and irreversibly deaf in one ear or you have age-induced cognitive delays.
Assuming you do have some hearing loss in just one ear, you won’t need a hearing aid in your other one. This is also true if you are permanently deaf in the one ear, there is no point in purchasing a second hearing aid. These two situations will not improve with the addition of a second hearing aid.
If you are a person over the age of 85 and have cognitive delays, choosing to wear two hearing aids might create excess auditory stimuli, enough that it becomes overwhelming and confusing. You might find you struggle to separate speech patterns from other speech or background noise, as well.
The final reason to choose only one hearing aid is it’s just too big of a financial burden if you do try to buy two. Make sure you exhaust all of your options first, though, before settling for just the one hearing-assistance device. Look to social services and your insurance company for help.
Choosing The Right Hearing Aid For You
Of course, you want what’s best for your ears, so you can continue to participate in all the activities you love. For more information on hearing health, check us out today!