Binaural or Dual Hearing Aids (Two Hearing Aids)
Basically, if you have two ears with hearing loss, and if both ears could benefit from hearing aids, you need dual hearing aids or binaural hearing aids. If you try to amplify sound in only one ear, you cannot expect to do very well. Even the best hearing aid will sound "flat" or "dull" when worn in only one ear.
Assuming you have two ears that hear about the same, you can do a little experiment at home to better understand how important binaural hearing is:
Head over to your local drug store and buy a pair of earplugs. Follow the directions on the package and wear an earplug in one of your ears while you listen to the tv or radio or listen to your significant other. Try this when you are in a noisy situation. You will see what a huge difference hearing with two ears makes!
There are many advantages associated with binaural (two ear) listening and importantly, there are problems associated with wearing only one hearing aid -- if you are indeed a candidate for binaural amplification.
You can hear better in background noise with two hearing aids versus one hearing aid. Two hearing aids enable you to tell which direction sounds are coming from. Finally, you do not have to worry about people talking to you on your "bad" side.
People cannot hear well using only one ear. There are studies in the research literature that show that children with one normal ear and one "deaf" ear are ten times more likely to repeat a grade when compared to children with two normally hearing ears. Additionally, we know that if you have two ears with hearing impairment and you wear only one hearing aid, the unaided ear is likely to lose word recognition ability more quickly than the ear wearing the hearing aid.
I feel so strongly about binaural hearing aids that if I recommend two hearing aids for a patient and they refuse and decide to only get one, I will have them sign a paper stating that I had recommended two hearing aids and that they declined. Do you know anyone who wears a monacle? There is a reason!