Setting the Regional Gold Standard in Hearing Services and Patient Care for More than 30 Years

Sylva, NC 828-586-7474
Franklin, NC 828-524-5599
Murphy, NC 828-835-1014

Is it OK to Wear Just One Hearing Aid?

a woman being fitted for a hearing aid

Although modern hearing aids are extremely ergonomic and discrete some people may still find them intrusive and inconvenient. As a result, they will opt for one hearing aid instead of two. But is this a good idea? On one hand it means you can still improve your hearing without an extra device, but there are very good reasons why a hearing device in both ears is better for your hearing and overall life quality. 

Better sound localization

Whether you decide to wear one hearing aid or two will depend on the extent of your hearing loss and personal preference. Many people operate perfectly well with just one hearing aid, but two is often recommended. 

For one thing, two hearing aids gives you better localization. This refers to the sounds you are able to take in from your environment. Our brains are designed to take in sound information from both ears, so if one performs better than the other it can cause issues.

When you have hearing aids in both ears it improves this localization. It allows you to determine the speaker and direction of sound more easily. It also helps you to ascertain the direction of traffic on the street, which is important for personal safety. 

Improved hearing in background noise

Generally, the brain uses both ears to determine the direction of speech and the type of speech coming in. It tends to use both ears to separate the target speech from the background noise. This is useful in everyday conversations and formal situations. 

If you have only one hearing aid available, it makes it more challenging to filter the background noise and hear the target speech clearly. So even though you wear a hearing aid in your weak ear you may still strain to hear what people say. 

As well as the brain's ability to separate speech from background noise when wearing two hearing aids, often hearing aids have features that reduce background noise automatically. However, these features only work when operating as a pair. 

Reduced tinnitus

Tinnitus is a hearing condition in which a person can hear a ringing sound in their ear. The ringing can be low frequency and minor, or more significant. It can be temporary or long term. Whatever kind of tinnitus you have a hearing device can help. 

Many individuals gain some relief from tinnitus symptoms by using a hearing aid. A hearing device can make the ringing in your eras harder to perceive. They also work effectively to cancel out background noise which contributes to the condition. 

While using a hearing aid in one ear may prevent the symptoms of tinnitus on that side, you will still be able to perceive the symptoms in the other ear. If you want relief from tinnitus using a hearing device, it's best to use them in both ears. 

Reduced listening effort

It's understandable that someone with hearing issues might want to reduce the number of hearing aids they use. Hearing aids can be awkward at times and unsightly if you get one that isn't discrete or ergonomically designed. 

Nevertheless, hearing aids provide a pathway to a far better listening experience in the world. You no longer miss the small details in people’s speech, and you can enjoy the sounds of nature on walks and hikes. Unfortunately, using only one hearing aid compromises the experience. 

The aim of good quality hearing is balance. If one of your ears is underperforming it will mean you have to strain to hear from your weak side. This can happen regardless of how well you hear from your device side. 

Reduced auditory deprivation

Like many parts of the body the hearing in the ears starts to diminish when it isn't used. This is the same as muscles and eyesight. As a result, it's important to keep your ears active for as long as possible and extend their operation with hearing devices when necessary. 

Of course, using a hearing device in one ear will keep it active. You will extend the lifespan of that ear by offering it regular real-world stimulation. The other ear however will be deprived of auditory stimulation and will begin to atrophy. Without a hearing device in both ears, you will be at a disadvantage long term. 

Overall, two hearing aids are better for your hearing and life quality than one, however, each situation is different. You will need to consult closely with your audiologist to decide which hearing treatment is best.

Contact Salyer Hearing Center Sylva today at 828-586-7474, Franklin: 828-524-5599, Murphy: 828-835-1014.