Do you consider yourself as having a “good” ear versus a “bad” one? The binary between good and bad is rather simplistic but what it does denote is that you most likely have uneven hearing. Hearing with two ears is called binaural hearing and while one ear may hear worse than the other, it denotes a lack of balance in your hearing – not a unilateral hearing loss. Even so, while one ear might be worse than the other, you must treat bilateral hearing loss with two hearing aids.
Unilateral hearing is rather quite rare occurring in an estimated 60,000 people in the US. While around 1 in 1,000 children is born with unilateral hearing loss, the condition affects approximately 7% of US adults. It means that one ear has hearing damage or deafness, while the other ear is perfectly functioning. Even when someone’s hearing is unequal, this doesn’t mean it’s unilateral.
Many people make the mistake that because one ear has a noticeable hearing loss, they don’t have to treat the other ear. However, this can make things complicated. We have Bilateral hearings for a reason. It helps us hear the world around us with improved accuracy and precision. When sound comes from the right side our right ear picks it up first and when it comes from the left side, our left ear is first to process it. This allows our brain the ability to decipher what direction sounds are coming from. Hearing with two ears is called binaural hearing and it helps us localize sound and helps our brain to determine the location, direction, proximity, and approaching speed of the sounds in our world. This helps keep us safe when we are out in the world and aware of our surroundings.
When one ear is worse than the other, in the majority of cases both ears are still affected. Your brain relies on an equal balance from both ears to properly hear. This means that it’s important to amplify both ears, even if one doesn’t seem to be a noticeable issue. People often live with hearing loss for years before it’s noticeable enough to self-diagnose. This is because of the slow and subtle nature in which hearing loss develops. You may be losing tones and pitches but your brain normalizes it over many years. When people wear hearing aids for the first time, they are often shocked at all the sounds they can suddenly hear. It often takes your brain some time to get used to the return of the long-lost sounds. If you were to treat just one ear, most often hearing aid usually fails to provide a satisfying sound experience for the wearer.
When you treat both ears, you not only make it easier for you to hear the world around you but you make it easier for your brain to process sound as well. This allows for brain power that you would devote to poor hearing and trying to understand to focus on all other functions. Using both sides of the brain significantly improves the ability to decipher speech and what’s known as selective listening, also known as prioritizing sounds in a crowded room. This ability to pay attention to one sound over another is essential when trying to hear in a noisy room when multiple people are speaking at once.
Are you tired of asking people to speak into your “good” ear? Then it’s time to explore treatment options for your hearing loss. While you may have unilateral hearing loss, chances are that both ears have been having some degree of hearing loss for a while. The first step in accessing the care and support you need is to schedule an appointment for a hearing exam with us today. We can diagnose the extent of hearing ability in both ears and help you find the best solution for all your hearing needs. Schedule your appointment with us today!