One or 2 hearing aids

I have mild to moderate hearing loss at on side (left) as a result of an accident many years ago. Therefore, I started using a single hearing aid one year ago and it really helps me. Because my other ear is also not perfect anymore, I thought I could maybe (slightly) benefit from a second one. Actually I am already trying, but it is not easy to compare both cases side by side, as I have to try one hearing aid versus 2 in different periods. Both cannot be tested at the same time (e.g. by removing the right one), because the settings for the left hearing aid are different when using it with or without the second one. And I agree the expected gain would not be spectacular, because one ear is still fairly good (thai is why it is so difficult to test in different periods, especially in times of Covid when there is much less interaction). According to my doctor I would not benefit from the second one (hearing is more or less OK in the “speech frequencies”), but then according to my audiologist could clearly be a benefit. I also hear of people benefiting from hearing aids even if the hearing loss is only mild. Are there people with comparable hearing loss who think I could benefit from a second hearing aid in challenging situations (I agree it will not help much in situations like watching TV).

Do you struggle at all to hear?

If the answer is yes then get it.

I don’t care what the doctor says.


I suspect any benefit would be subtle. I’d say your call. Whatever you prefer.

You can do a head to head comparison. Play a YouTube video with one aid, then replay to it with two aids.

I have mild to severe loss in my left ear and a mild to normal loss in my right ear. Yes, the slopes are reversed. I used no aids from 1997 (date of loss) to 2014, 1 aid (Bluetooth) from 2014 to 2022 and 2 aids (Bluetooth) for the last 2 months. Using the 2 aids helps balance the sound. Also calls work better with 2 aids.

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Your audiogam looks interesting, as you have mild to normal loss in your right ear and nevertheless you have 2 aids. You had 1 aid for 8 years. What in particular made you decide to switch to 2 aids at a certain moment, while the loss in one ear is still only mild?

A head to head comparison, as you suggest, is not possible, as the setting of the left aid is different with and without the right aid, according to the audiologist. So I cannot just compare by removing one of them.

I switched to a new AuD who suggested trying 2 aids. I was reticent, but agreed to trial with 2 aids. The second aid really did balance out my hearing. Do I NEED the second aid? I could live without it.

If I could not afford to write a check for it, I would not have bought it. THBS, it does improve the overall hearing experience, especially in loud environments and while on the phone. Also streaming music is a much better experience than with one aid.

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Welcome! You came to a helpful place. I asked the same question when I got my first pair. My AuD, whom was also female and we knew each other, said: It’s like a woman with lopsided breast wearing a single sided bra. It’s a bit crude, but it was a helpful analogy. The balance is just not the same.

When I first got HAs 12 years ago, I spent a ton of time taking them in and out to see if they helped and judge the difference. I finally decided to just leave them in and enjoy better overall hearing. I agree with whatdidyousay - you can likely manage without, but if there is any improvement and you can afford it, it could be worth it. There is also the aspect of continuing to stimulate the less responsive nerves to keep your neurons in the brain responding to sound in the worse frequencies…or something to that effect. My AuD said that is important. I have no idea about that science, so I likely stated that poorly. Good luck.

I think you’ve answered your own question. You DO hear better with the second HA.

There is no question I hear better with 2 aids. The question is a value proposition. I am in a position where the better hearing is worth more to me than $3K or so in cash. There have been times in my life where this was not so.

I understand the cost/benefit consideration. If it won’t break the bank, maybe think about it as an investment in your general health. (And in the us HAs are deductible from your taxes.) But in the end this is something only you can decide.

When I got my first HAs over 25 years ago, I returned the one in my worse (right) ear because I didn’t think it helped enough to be worth the money. That being said, I probably should have kept it, but money was tight then.

I could easily have gotten away with one aid, however I really prefer two. Firstly it sounds better to me. More similar across the ears. Second, my right ear, although not bad, still has some loss. And going to Costco two aids cost almost half of what one was going to cost at a private audi, so there’s that ;). At $3-4k ea it wasn’t worth two aids, at under $2k for both it was for me…

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If I read all the posts, I would summarize: Go for 2 HA if you can afford it. Although the gain may be subtle with the second one, the balance can be expected to be better and it can improve the overall hearing experience. And then there still is the streaming advantage.

Seems like a fair recap.

I think the benefit of TWO aids is that a similar sound would be processed in each ear by the brain. The compression reality of hearing aids is NEVER going to sound like natural hearing, So your brain would work overtime to process compressed frequencies in ONE ear, and totally natural sound in the other.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d like that kind of listening reality! Music, TV, speech, traffic, other ambient sounds would be a mix of compressed/natural. Maybe the brain adjusts over time but it seems it would almost be easier to have the sound quality nearly identical in both ears.

The downside of that would be you’d lose your natural hearing experience in the ear that really needs no aid. Nothing to lose with a 2-week trial tho! :slight_smile:

I have pretty severe loss in my left ear. I have worn an aid of some type in that one for 25+ years. When I went with my current aid(s) I started with one and a year later my audiologist and I agreed that I should add the second one. It has been helpful although I feel like my right side still does all the work again. I don’t have a great copy of my loss chart graph to share or I would. Without my aids now I don’t hear many things like my coffee maker when it beeps to tell me it is done or other high frequency sounds so again I would say get both aids.

As an aside I think since I recently had covid my tinnitus has been way worse and doesn’t help me to hear those higher pitched sounds without the aids. I have taken my HA off for the last week as I have been fighting a head cold and found that they are not helping me at all at this time.

I wore a single hearing aid in my right ear for seven years before getting a wired cross aid in 2017 i then got my first wireless cros aid in 2019 and haven’t looked back since then until now when I’m faced with a situation where I may have to try going back to a single hearing aid due to the fact of issues with dexterity mainly right hand in order to get a rechargeable option

The best way to see if you need one or two aids is to trial them for two weeks and test drive them. Set up a few experiments to see how well you can hear and understand speech or enjoy music under two conditions: 1) with one aid in the ear with hearing loss and 2) with aids in both ears. Because it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing aids, I’d recommended a week wearing only one aid, and a week with two. Be critical but unbiased and document everything.

When I got my first pair of hearing aids, I trialed with two and and ended up buying only one (against the recommendation of the audiologist). In my case, I got the aid for my right ear, because my hearing loss was so severe the aids at that time (2008) didn’t help with my understanding of speech in my left ear, they just made the world noisier. It wasn’t worth the extra ~$3K for me.

When the hearing aid technology caught up with my degree and type of loss (2017), I purchased two aids and the two together do give me much more balanced hearing. I will never go back to wearing only one. BUT I still, out of habit, catch myself turning my head when I have difficulty hearing in noisy and masked situations so that my right ear can catch more speech sounds.

Good luck!

I would probably get away with one aid, as I get very little contextual information from my left ear, with no response above 3kHz…… Having said that, I do notice immediately if I am unaided on my left side, it may be subtle, but it impacts quite dramatically on my speech understanding, that ear has always been the worst of the 2, although the right ear is bad, with no response above 6kHz, I am still pleasantly surprised how much speech I do understand whilst aided…… Without my aids, I cannot hold a conversation, depending on the speaker, and perhaps lip reading, if not wearing masks, I may catch the odd word, then I have to resort to BSL (British Sign Language) in order to communicate effectively…… After my initial loss, (Viral Flu) some 30 odd years back, I was aided fairly quickly (approximately 6 months) perhaps that is why I retained, much more speech understanding? I have 3 sets of aids, that I still use, all Phonak, but I have used many sets of Oticon, in the past. Phonak Naida Paradise 90’s UP BTE & Naida M70’s SP BTE, are both wonderful aids for profound loss, and the Phonak Marvel RIC 90’s, are excellent aids with 105db receiver’s, they just lack a little oomph…… In conclusion, I think 2 aids are in most instances preferable, it gives you more of a hearing balance, but obviously, if money is tight, then one aid is far better than none…… Cheers Kev :wink:

My situation is a little more difficult, as my hearing loss is much less severe. My left ear certainly benefits from a hearing aid (which I clearly experience), but my right ear is still quite good. I have almost no loss in the 750Hz - 2kHz range and also the loss at low and at high frequency (up to 6kHz) is still mild to moderate. According to my audiologist I would definitely gain from a correction in these low and high frequencies, but my doctor says I don’t need one. I am sure the gain I would get with a second HA will not be spectacular, but any gain would be welcome. As the expected gain is not spectacular, it is only possible to assess in “challenging situations”, such as speeking to someone at a ticket booth, in a restaurant,… and then it is difficult to judge if you wear 1 HA during one week and 2 during the next week. Only a side by side comparison would make that possible. But I cannot take out one HA (for the best ear), as the HA for the worst ear has different setting when testing 2 HA (settings for binaural hearing) than when testign only 1. That was why I was hoping there would be some objective arguments that could justify a second HA even if one of the ears is quite good ( and when financial areguments are taken out of the equation)

I’d say don’t overthink it. If money is not really an issue and you have interest in seeing if there’s benefit to a second hearing aid, try it. I suspect you’d get a more balanced sound. If you don’t like it, return. If you don’t want to hassle it, don’t. It’s not going to make a huge difference either way.

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