Hear the world of sounds around you
Being able to hear and localize a sound source is very important for our ability to communicate and have an active social life. Our ability to determine the direction from which a sound comes is essential in potentially dangerous situations, for example when crossing a road with a lot of traffic or reacting to warning calls.
…. with both ears
One of the major advantages of the physical position of our ears, one on either side of the head, is that it allows us to determine the direction of sounds. Due to the distance between our ears, the individual sounds will reach our ears with a timing difference and with different intensity. The brain registers and processes this information and lets us know where the individual sound comes from.
Two good ears in combination make it easier to hear surrounding sounds better than with one ear. When both ears function optimally it is not only easier to distinguish sounds in background noise, but speech intelligibility, perception of space and sound quality are also improved.
If there is a hearing loss in both ears, it is almost always an advantage to wear a hearing aid in both ears. With two hearing aids, the amount of amplification required from each individual hearing aid is reduced compared to with just one hearing aid. This means that background noise is also less amplified and that the risk of feedback whistling is reduced. The use of two hearing aids not only improves hearing on each ear but also gives the following advantages:
- it is easier to separate speech from background noise
- it is easier to localize sound
- better sound quality and tonal depth
It has long been appreciated that music and speech sound better in stereo. When there is a hearing loss in both ears, it will often be possible to utilize one's hearing ability far better in "stereo" with two hearing aids. Your hearing healthcare professional may refer to this as "the advantage of binaural hearing".
Becoming used to hearing aids
For some first-time users, wearing their hearing aids becomes a normal part of daily life within a couple of weeks. The advantages of the "new" hearing ability offset any physical difficulties. For others the process can take longer. Many users report that it can take up to six months to become fully accustomed to the new sensation of amplification. It is, however, important not to give up. Several hearing aid adjustments maybe required before a satisfactory result is obtained.
Some people choose to use only one of their hearing aids at the beginning, because they feel that their ears are blocked, or their own voice sounds strange when using both hearing aids. Naturally, it is better to use one hearing aid than none at all but it is still not the best solution. If only one hearing aid is used, the "stereo effect" that gives the ears and the brain the largest benefit is not obtained. Moreover, such "disadvantages" are usually only of limited duration and will most often fade.
Nature has provided us with two ears to give us the best possible hearing. Although hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, the recent advances in hearing aid technology have given us the possibility of making the most of our remaining hearing. And this typically works best in stereo!