Today I had a patient ask me if they really needed two hearing aids. This is a very common question in our business. Please understand the following:
We don't just hear with our ears. We hear (process) with our brains. The brain is made up of two hemispheres. Much auditory information is processed between the cochlea (inner ear) and the auditory cortex (brain). During this process much of the auditory information crosses over to the contralateral side for processing. An Audiologist who determines that a hearing loss is present in both ears (bilaterally) will recommend 2 hearing aids for the following reasons:
1. Improved speech clarity in quiet.
2. Improved speech clarity in noise.
2. Improved depth perception. A person's ability to hear clearly in the distance is optimal with 2 optimal ears.
3. Improved localization. Determining where sounds are coming from in relation to one's own body in space.
4. Preventative Auditory Deprrivation. Auditory Neuropathy over time due to the lack of auditory stimulation over many years.
5. Reduced onset of Tinnitis related to Auditory Deprivation. Most people who come into our office with complaints of tinnitus have had high frequency sensorineural hearing loss for several years.
It's common sense to fit someone bilaterally for an optimal auditory signal. Three reasons a bilateral hearing aid fitting isn't recommended are as follows:
1. A medical reason contraindicating the use of a hearing aid.
2. A profound hearing loss where no hearing aid would provide any auditory benefit.
3. Speech discrimination that is so poor that a hearing aid will provide no improvement in understanding.
When was the last time you saw someone wearing a monocle? We utilize two lenses to see best. Therefore, we utilize two hearing aids to hear best.