Individuals often experience different levels of hearing loss in each ear.

There’s a reason for an ear on each side of our head. It provides us with binaural hearing. Hearing with two ears is much like seeing with two eyes. Binaural hearing enables us to hear sounds all around us (360º), and allows us to recognize where sounds are coming from (localization). This is particularly important for our safety and ability to hear warnings. Another huge benefit of binaural hearing is it allows us to hear and understand speech in background noise. Two ears allow us to “squelch” the background noise and focus on the foreground (the speech you want to hear). Two ears also provide us with more volume than one ear alone.

Two Ears Means More Brainpower

Sounds collected by your left ear are initially processed by the right side of the brain, while sounds collected by your right ear are initially processed by the left side of the brain. After they are received, the two halves of your brain work together to organize the signals into recognizable words and sounds. Using both sides of the brain significantly improves the ability to decipher speech.

Two Ears Hear Better in Noise

Similarly, using more of your brain to focus on the sound you want to hear is tremendously important in overcoming one of the primary complaints of individuals with hearing loss: hearing among background noise. Also, a person wearing two hearing aids generally needs less amplification than someone wearing only one. Lower volume means less potential for sound distortion and feedback, which leads to higher-quality reproduction of sound.

Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss

In less common cases in which there is a total hearing loss in one ear (also known as profound unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness), there are medical therapies that may help to re-create some of the effects of binaural hearing. These include bone-conduction systems (also known as bone-anchored hearing aids, or BAHA devices) that can help transmit vibrations from the nonhearing ear to the functioning ear. Also, CROS (contralateral routing of sound) hearing aids are available that use a microphone in the nonhearing ear to transmit the sound to the hearing hear.

Contact us to discuss your hearing situation and what kind of hearing care solution is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are some types of hearing loss easier to treat?
Approximately 10 percent of all hearing losses can be treated medically or surgically. The other 90 percent can benefit from the use of hearing aids and comprehensive hearing solution. Treatment varies depending on the type of hearing loss and your unique needs. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment method for hearing loss — it’s based on the sounds that you can’t hear, which vary greatly, and the sounds that you want to be able to hear. Hearing loss is a puzzle that our professionals love to solve, and it is based on your individual experiences, lifestyle, and severity of impairment. A quality hearing system from a reputable manufacturer isn’t effective until an experienced, qualified hearing care professional programs the technology properly based on your unique hearing needs.
Are there any health downsides to not treating hearing loss?
Research has established a relationship between hearing loss and dementia. There is strong evidence that hearing loss accelerates brain-tissue atrophy, particularly in areas of the brain that auditory nerves would stimulate but can’t because they aren’t receiving a signal (due to a hearing loss). These areas of the brain are also related to memory and speech. Individuals with a mild hearing loss are three times as likely to fall down than those without, and the likelihood of falls increases as degree of hearing loss increases. Hearing loss has also been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sickle-cell anemia, and other circulatory conditions.
At what age do people normally start getting hearing loss?
Actually, there is no normal. There are many factors that determine whether or not a person will have hearing loss and when it may begin. Hearing loss is influenced by such things as heredity, disease, noise exposure and medications. One-third of people over 65 have some degree of hearing loss.
How can I improve my hearing?
Unfortunately, many forms of hearing loss are permanent because there is no cure. Treatment methods that feature amplification fit to your specific hearing loss by a hearing care professional typically have the highest user satisfaction for improved hearing and improved quality of life.
How can I prevent hearing loss?
Protecting your hearing from noise levels greater than 85 decibels at work and during leisurely activities will greatly reduce your chances of noise-induced hearing loss. Many manufacturing jobs require hearing protection in loud environments, but hearing protection is also recommended while ATV riding, hunting, attending concerts and sporting events, and playing music — all situations where your hearing is vulnerable.
Is hearing loss hereditary?
Though it is difficult to say what genetic factors predispose individuals to hearing loss, there seems to be a connection. Some genetic disorders present at birth cause a hearing loss, but in the absence of a disease, hearing loss can still have a basis in your genetics.
What should I do if I get sudden hearing loss?
See your physician immediately; sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency. Seeking medical assistance within 24 hours of the onset of sudden hearing loss greatly improves the chances that your hearing will recover.