People who are hard of hearing in both ears need two hearing aids to get satisfactory results. Hearing with both ears is like seeing with both eyes. If you close one eye, you may find it difficult to pick up small objects or have other visual problems.
If you listen with one ear, you will not be able to distinguish the direction of the sound and you will not be able to hear the right words, especially in noisy places. In addition, stereo sound cannot be heard. This is the main reason why hearing aids are needed in both ears when hearing is impaired in both ears.
Patients with bilateral deafness greater than 60 dB should wear hearing aids in both ears whenever possible so that they can not only distinguish the direction of the sound but also have better speech discrimination in noisy environments. Wearing hearing aids in both ears also improves sound gain by about 6 dB.
Wearing hearing aids in both ears has at least the following advantages.
Improved sound localization
A person needs to hear in both ears to make good sound localization. The sound output of a binaural hearing aid is able to determine the effective distance and exact location of the sound and to make a correct assessment. Therefore, improved sound localization is the primary benefit of binaural hearing aids.
Improved speech discrimination in noisy environments
Wearing hearing aids in both ears allows the listener to better understand speech in noisy environments. A binaural hearing has the ability to suppress and reduce the intensity of noise in the surrounding environmental noise and reduce the impact of this noise on speech. Especially in environments with echoes, wearing hearing aids in both ears has a better rate of speech comprehension.
Improved Hearing Comfort
Bilateral hearing aids provide a greater sound loudness to both ears. At this point, the listener feels a noticeable sense of ease and comfort when listening to sound, even if the speech understanding scores are similar to those of hearing aids worn unilaterally.
Improved sound quality
Hearing aids in both ears provide better and “richer” sound quality than when worn in one ear. However, this is mainly based on feedback from users and there is no scientific test method available for clinical use. Since most of the current testing is done in quiet environments, it is possible to achieve better speech intelligibility with monaural hearing aids, thus not highlighting the advantages of binaural hearing aids.
In recent years, many otologists have observed a preference for bilateral hearing aids in elderly patients. When a hearing is impaired, older adults show a greater decrease in speech discrimination. This is due to degenerative changes in their auditory centers and peripheral nerves that greatly reduce the number of speech signals reaching the cerebral cortex. As a result, older deaf people need to rely on bilateral hearing aids to obtain as much speech information as possible.
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