When it comes to making the decision to be fitted for hearing aids, you may be wondering, “Can I get by with wearing a hearing aid in just one ear?”
Let’s take a look at when you should consider getting two hearing aids and when you should consider just getting one.
Temporary versus permanent hearing loss
It’s essential first to determine whether your hearing loss is temporary or permanent. This can be answered by a qualified professional following a thorough examination. If your hearing loss is attributable to any of the following situations, it’s likely only temporary.
- Wax build-up that can be remedied in a clinical setting
- Head cold, ear infection or other illness
- Exposure to loud sounds (though if you don’t hear again within a few hours, you should see a professional)
If your hearing loss is temporary, your doctor can address ways to work with this prognosis. But if your hearing loss is permanent, you’ll want to consider hearing aids. Now the question becomes, one hearing or two?
When should I consider getting two hearing aids?
Some people try to save money by only buying one hearing aid, especially if one ear hears better than the other.
Usually, you’ll want to get two hearing aids if you have any hearing loss in both ears. Getting a pair of hearing aids:
- Improves the clarity of sound and your alertness
- Allows your brain to distinguish between relevant auditory input and irrelevant background noise
- Helps you locate the origin of a sound to tune into the message
- Balances incoming stimuli
- Reduces the likelihood of developing tinnitus
- Decreases the risk of auditory deprivation and a further decline in hearing
If you have hearing loss in both ears, it’s best to treat them both.
When should I consider getting only one hearing aid?
The three primary reasons to opt for one hearing aid is when you have single-sided hearing loss, you’re completely and irreversibly deaf in one ear, or you have age-induced cognitive delays.
Single-sided, also known as unilateral, hearing loss, is when you can hear perfectly fine in one ear and have difficulty in the other. If you have hearing loss in only one ear, there is no need to have a hearing aid in your other ear. Likewise, if you are permanently deaf in one ear, there is no point in purchasing a second hearing aid. Neither of these situations would improve with the addition of a second hearing aid.
For persons over the age of 85 with cognitive delays, wearing two hearing aids might cause the auditory stimuli to become overwhelming and confusing. They might also struggle to separate speech patterns from other speech or background noise.
A fourth reason to choose only one hearing aid is if it’s absolutely financially unfeasible to purchase two. It is highly advisable to exhaust all options before settling for just one hearing aid when you need two. Ask your hearing specialist to help determine whether you have insurance coverage or are eligible for financing.
In most cases, though, you should invest in a pair of hearing aids as they work together to help you hear properly.