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What is Better: One Hearing Aid or Two?

What is Better: One Hearing Aid or Two?

The debate between one or two hearing aids is perhaps as old as hearing aids themselves. Patients can’t help but weigh the benefits of two hearing aids against the additional price. While most audiologists recommend two hearing aids to benefit the patient’s sound experience, there are a few isolated scenarios where one hearing aid would actually be better.  

Cognitive delays

Elderly individuals over the age of 80 are often target of cognitive delays, which is a postponement in their mental capability. This normally happens along with signs of dementia. Numerous studies show that it is better for these particular individuals to wear one hearing aid instead of two. This is because people with cognitive delay performed better in noisy environments when they were wearing one hearing aid. One of the reasons for this is that auditory input from both ears in noisy settings can be overstimulating for these individuals and somewhere in the central nervous pathway the two speech signals would cancel each other out.

Hearing loss in one ear

It may seem like stating the obvious when doctors advise that you need to wear only a single hearing aid if you have hearing loss in one ear only. Unilateral amplification would lead to improved sound quality in the ear that needs the additional push only while the other ear works at its normal pace. This is deemed as the classic case of a situation in which one hearing aid is completely fine.

While it is completely safe to wear one hearing aid in the case of single-ear hearing loss, some users still prefer to wear two. This is because they feel off-balance with one hearing aid and need two to get a sense of balance and equality between both ears.

Your budget

Because hearing aids are a large investment, many patients with hearing loss do not buy any devices. It is important to understand that leaving hearing loss untreated can have lasting detrimental health effects, including but not limited to falling, dementia, memory loss and cognitive decline.

In many cases, patients can only afford to buy one hearing aid rather than two. Audiologists agree the investment of one hearing aid will also benefit the patient substantially when compared to no amplification. Even though the patient that uses one hearing aid when they need two will be missing out on the numerous benefits of binaural amplification, purchasing one hearing device is still putting them on the path to better hearing.  

Talk with your audiologist to determine if you would benefit from one or two hearing aids and how you can budget for your devices accordingly.