Often with hearing loss, people have more severe hearing damage in one ear than the other. Because hearing is sometimes lopsided, and also because hearing devices are pricey, we may be tempted to get only one hearing aid instead of two. But is that recommended?
Our ears are what we see, so it’s tempting to think that our ears do all the work of our hearing. Actually, our brains do even more work in the process of hearing and understanding the sounds we encounter every day than our ears. Our brains and ears are connected with auditory nerves. Our brains translate what we hear in our environment into meaningful sound. Our hearing is much more complex than we realized. There are multiple components to our hearing and interpreting the world around us, and any issue with one element can result in hearing impairment.
Even though our ears may be unequally affected by hearing loss, impairment of one ear is very seldom the only damage. Since our ears work together to bring sound to our brains, having only one hearing aid can backfire, because one ear will have support and the other will not. Further decline can be prevented in the ear that has the device, but not in the one that doesn’t.
Exercises for Your Hearing
Everyone knows that exercise is good—even necessary–for our bodies. This concept of exercising to strengthen ourselves can also be applied to hearing and listening. When hearing damage has occurred, sometimes sounds can be heard but misunderstood. This “mis-translation” can be caused by a “bad connection” along the auditory nerve between the brain and the ears. “Listening exercises” can help slow the progression, helping your brain to “re-learn” how to meaningfully interpret sounds.
Your audiologist is a great place to start to find exercises that can help.
Hearing “equally” is one way we can support listening comprehension. As stimulation of the auditory nerve increases, the brain doesn’t have to work so hard to interpret the sounds your ears bring in. Hearing loss is a handicap, and it requires the most effortless, seamless listening experience available. For this, your best bet is to get two hearing aids, not just one.
Battery life is also extended when wearing two hearing aids instead of one, and of course having them on both sides is much more effective. Having two hearing aids can make having smaller, more discreet devices an option as well, because the power requirements are divided between the two devices.
Where is it Coming From?
Our ears are great at triangulating sound so we can pinpoint the direction from which noise is coming.This ability is vital to keeping us safe in dangerous situations, and can prevent embarrassment in social situations. For this triangulation to work, however, we need to have equal use of both of our ears. Known as “localization,” this ability is practical for us every day, and essential for protection. Uneven hearing makes localization more difficult.
People who wear two hearing aids have been found to be generally happier and more content with their hearing experience than those who wear just one. Two hearing aids can restore hearing much more effectively than one. Hearing, listening and interpreting sound depend on much more than just our ears, and in the case of hearing damage we need all the help we can get.
The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon (925) 394-4646