Individuals often experience different levels of hearing loss in each ear. And patients in this situation frequently ask us, “Can’t I just treat my really bad ear for hearing loss? Won’t that be improvement enough?”
While we at Whittier Hearing Center sometimes see patients with hearing loss in only one ear (also known as unilateral hearing loss), typically the factors that have led to the impairment have affected both ears — just to a different degree. In this relatively common situation, we find that fitting just one hearing aid usually fails to provide a satisfying sound experience for the wearer.
Hearing well with both ears not only takes advantage of our ears’ critical ability to identify the location of sound (a surprisingly important component of our ability to listen and to focus on sound effectively), it also helps make speech easier to understand in the presence of noise and helps reduce the fatigue and confusion brought on by difficult listening environments.
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 and what’s known as “selective listening” ability — the ability to pay attention to the sound or voice you really want to hear.
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 there is a total hearing loss in one ear, with normal or near normal hearing in the other ear, which is called Single Sided Deafness (SSD). Whittier Hearing Center has expertise in helping patients with the unique problems caused by SSD. Some require we work with an ENT to do a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid while others can be done in our office. These include BICROS hearing aids and the Sound Bite System. If you suffer from Single Sided Deafness be sure to contact our office for a SSD Consult.
Contact us to discuss your hearing situation and what kind of hearing care solution is right for you.
13121 E. Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601