Often when diagnosed with hearing loss, one ear may have more severe hearing damage than the other. Because hearing aids can carry a significant cost, we are often asked if two hearing aids are really necessary. The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”
How the Ears Work
The human auditory system is made up of a lot more than our two ears. We also have auditory nerves which connect to our brains, and our brains do the heavy lifting of interpreting the noises we hear into meaningful sound. All of these parts work together to give us hearing, and if a problem happens with any one part, hearing as a whole can break down.
If hearing loss is present in one ear, it is often present to some extent in the other ear. If you only wear a hearing aid in one ear, you are supplementing and supporting one ear and not the other, so one may stay at the current level of hearing ability while the other declines.
Exercise Your Hearing
With any muscle or body system, getting regular exercise is important. This is true for our brains, our eyes and our ears as well. As hearing loss progresses, people sometimes find that even the sound they can hear isn’t clear. This is the result of poor communication between the ears and the brain through the auditory nerve.
If this pathway has been compromised it can lead to progressive hearing loss because it becomes more difficult to practice good listening skills. It fatigues them, so they stop trying, which leads to more deterioration in hearing ability.
Fortunately, there are exercises you can do to halt this progression. Come in and talk to your audiologist for some options and exercises that you can do on your own that could help.
Amplify Your Life
One way to encourage better listening skills is to ensure both ears are hearing at the same level. This increases the auditory stimulation, so your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to interpret sound from your ears. If you have any hearing loss, the best way to ensure the most seamless listening experience is to wear a hearing aid in each ear.
In addition to being more effective overall, having two hearing aids instead of one saves on battery life and you may be able to wear smaller, more discreet hearing aids because less power is necessary.
Where is it Coming From?
When both ears have equal hearing ability, you are better able to pinpoint the location of the sounds that you hear, also called “localization.” Being able to quickly determine from which direction a sound is coming is not only practical in everyday life, it is also necessary for safety. If you are driving it is important to discern from which direction sirens are coming so you can get out of the way, or if someone is yelling it may be necessary to move away from that person. If you have lopsided hearing, localization becomes much more difficult.
In general, people who wear two hearing aids as opposed to just one are happier and more satisfied with their hearing experience, because two hearing aids can restore hearing much more effectively than one. Hearing, listening and understanding depend on more than just our ears, so the more help they have the better.
Los Gatos Audiology is here to help you protect your hearing health. Call today and come in for your yearly hearing exam so you can stay ahead of the curve and protect your hearing, your brain and your health.
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