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.