Yes, you can only wear one hearing aid. In the case of Vincent van Gough, he wouldn’t have had much of a choice!
Ultimately, it is down to the individual to decide whether they go with one hearing aid or two but this should be an informed choice. If you have hearing loss in only one ear and normal / near normal hearing in the other, then one hearing aid is all you need. It is however, more typical to have hearing loss in both ears, especially if the loss is age-related.
We may have two ears, but we only have one brain. Our ears detect noise around us, but it is our brain which processes this random noise into recognisable sound. It is much easier if our brain is receiving information from both ears. Whether you realize it or not, our ears effectively function as a pair. That means wearing two hearing aids has specific benefits over wearing one.
You’ll know where sound is coming from. With one hearing aid, most sounds will seem like they’re all coming from one direction: the side the hearing aid is worn. Our brain compares the time of sound arrival to each ear and the intensity of sound to each ear to figure out its location. It can’t do this as well if you can only hear well out of one ear.
This must be the number one plea for hard of hearing people. Wearing two hearing aids means your brain can receive twice the amount of information, which it can use to help “filter out” sounds it doesn’t want to hear and focus on the ones it does.
Fact: muscles that are not used in our bodies will eventually become smaller and weaker. Now, our ears wouldn’t physically shrink but depriving them of sound can make our auditory nerve pathways and the associated centers in our brain less effective at decoding the sound around us. This is sometimes referred to as auditory deprivation. Over time, wearing only one hearing aid when you may need two, may lead to a loss of word understanding in the unaided ear. Wearing two hearing aids keeps your entire hearing system active.
Shhhh – you can turn the volume down. Wearing two hearing aids provides binaural summation. This is when a listener perceives greater intensity (volume) of sound when both ears are presented with a stimulus at once compared to hearing the stimulus in either ear alone. And lower volume means less feedback; a pet hate of almost all hearing aid uses.
Newer hearing aid technology is created to work as a pair in the same way as your ears are. The two hearing aids communicate with each other using advanced features and artificial intelligence to, much like your brain, identify which sounds to focus on and amplify.
So, yes, you can wear one hearing aid but in most circumstances, two hearing aids will be better for your ears and your hearing (just like two ears are better than one). To learn more about hearing tests, read our Hearing Test FAQ. If you are concerned about your hearing, book a free online hearing test. Alternatively, you can contact Chime to request some advice.