Binaural Benefit: The Importance of Two Hearing Aids

The physical attributes of the human body are largely symmetrical. Humans have two ears, two eyes, two arms, two legs, two hands, two feet. Our brains even seem hardwired to appreciate symmetry. Ancient Greeks were the first to identify symmetry as an important factor in determining physical beauty. Symmetrical facial features have been shown to be more cosmetically appealing than those that are asymmetrical. In addition to balanced facial features, studies have found that increased physical symmetry can even make us more appealing to potential suitors.

In fact, symmetrical variance can signal a problem or imbalance. William Brown, a scientist at Brunel University in the United Kingdom explained, “In animals with two sides that were designed by natural selection to be symmetrical subtle departures from symmetry may reflect poor development or exposure to environmental or genetic stress. In many species these departures are related to poor health, lower survival, and fewer offspring.”

The preference toward symmetry also applies to hearing. The majority of the population has symmetrical hearing, meaning both ears hear similarly. Even when hearing loss is present the loss is usually the same in both ears in both degree and type. In fact, if an audiologic evaluation identifies a clinically significant asymmetry between ears, additional testing is often done to rule out a medically treatable reason for the difference.

Scientific studies have proven that two ears functioning optimally in tandem are far more efficient than one working harder than the other. Which is why it is commonly recommended that hearing aid wearers use two hearing aids rather than one. 

Starkey hearing aids are designed to work together. Ear-to-ear communication, the manner in which our advanced hearing aids communicate with each other, provide the best listening experience for the hearing aid wearer. Two hearing aids communicating with each other replicate the natural way our ears are designed to hear. Hearing optimally with both ears provides a rich, balanced, and full sound experience for the listener.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. A recent blog post discussed the benefits of binaural hearing from a hearing aid wearer’s perspective. Carol, who was recently fit with two Halo hearing aids, described her listening experience wearing two hearing aids compared to wearing just one. Initially she was reticent to follow the advice of her audiologist and purchase two hearing aids, thinking she could get by with just one. At the insistence of her daughter, she ultimately purchased two. And it was only after losing one that she realized how much she was missing when she couldn’t wear both.

Hearing researchers have been investigating the benefits of wearing two hearing aids for years. A recent study replicating real-world conditions found that wearing two hearing aids improved listening performance more than wearing just one. Research studies indicate that wearing two hearing aids can improve speech understanding, localization and sound quality. Wearing two hearing aids can also increase the range or distance you are able to hear. Studies have shown that individuals who wear two hearing aids can hear up to four times the distance that those wearing just one can.

Another advantage of wearing two hearing aids is improved tinnitus suppression. Tinnitus relief was positively influenced by the amount of time two hearing aids were worn by research participants. Consistently wearing two hearing aids was shown to increase the amount of relief individuals with tinnitus experienced while wearing hearing aids. An independent study by the Better Hearing Institute also determined that individuals who wear two hearing aids report greater overall satisfaction than those fit with only one.

Binaural Benefits:

  • Improved sound quality
  • Better sound localization in complex listening environments
  • Reduced annoyance from tinnitus
  • Improved signal to noise ratio
  • Reduced listening effort
  • Increased listening range
  • Increased satisfaction

Learn more about the benefits of binaural hearing aids on our Starkey evidence blog here.

By Beth McCormick, Au.D.

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