IM this article to a friend!

December 10, 2002

Two hearing aids often better than using 1

From: Kingsport Times News, TN - 10 Dec 2002

By Linda Gemayel
Features columnist

When an audiologist makes a recommendation for two hearing aids for a patient, the patient often questions why. The question is a reasonable one considering the added expense. It is best answered with an outline of some relevant facts about binaural (two) hearing aids that have been proven by research and clinical experience.

Two hearing aids can allow better reception of quiet sounds and soft-spoken words. With many patients, the inability to hear soft-spoken or environmental sounds is one of the major complaints. A voice barely heard at 10 feet with one ear can be heard up to 40 feet away with two ears.

To match the performance of two aids, a single aid may have to be worn with the volume at a higher level than would be necessary when two aids are worn. The higher volume setting puts the patient closer to the point beyond which an increase in sound level becomes uncomfortable or painful.

The addition of the second aid can have the effect of increasing the range of sound pressure that the patient can comfortably hear.

Two hearing aids can help the patient better understand speech in the presence of unwanted noise.

Even a person who has one normal ear and one non-functioning ear has trouble understanding speech in the presence of noise. In order for the central nervous system to "sort out" speech from noise, input from both sides of the head is required.

Reception of sound from both sides of the head is possible with two hearing aids.

The addition of a second hearing aid reduces the need for rotating the head around to face the speaker, making communication easier and more comfortable.

We have all seen the folks who need to sit on a particular side of a speaker in order to hear well. The use of two hearing aids would eliminate the need to be selective about seating arrangements.

The ability to locate the source of a sound is improved with two hearing aids.

The ability to localize the origin of a sound allows a person to react more appropriately to his environment. Localization is the process of determining the source of a sound and eliminates the need to search for the direction of a voice, a door opening, an object falling, or a car approaching.

Two hearing aids are not recommended for all patients. The decision is based on the hearing sensitivity that is present for each ear, certain medical conditions, and results on specific parts of the hearing evaluation.

When a hard of hearing person wears a hearing aid on only one ear, that ear tends to take over all hearing. The unused ear tends to lose its ability to hear and understand.

Research has proven that both ears stay active when both are aided. When the recommendation is made for two hearing aids, it is because the audiologist believes that the communicative abilities of the patient will be significantly improved by wearing two hearing aids instead of one.

Copyright 2002 Kingsport Times-News. All rights reserved.