Binaural Hearing - What Is It?
Epictetus, the Greek philosopher, once said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Although a great sentiment, it’s not actually the reason that we have two ears.
Binaural hearing is what humans naturally have. It is the ability to hear in two ears. Our ears work together, allowing us to hear in stereo. This improves our ability to hear, and helps inform our brain what direction sounds are actually coming from. This ability to determine the relative direction or location that a sound is coming from has played an important role in our evolution as a species.
When sounds enter your left ear, your right side, or hemisphere, of your brain processes the sounds. Conversely, sounds that enter your right ear are processed on the left hemisphere of your brain. Both hemispheres then work together to interpret and process the sounds.
Scientists have found that using both hemispheres of your brain to process sound offers a noticeable improvement in our ability to understand speech. Our ability to selectively listen, that is to pay attention to one sound or voice while ignoring other sounds, improves when both hemispheres are working together.
What is Binaural Hearing Loss?
Binaural hearing loss is a hearing loss that is affecting both of your ears. Hearing loss will often affect one ear more than the other. For this reason, it may be tempting to want a hearing aid only for the ear that’s more affected by the hearing loss.
As we’ve discussed above, using both hemispheres of your brain is important for hearing and understanding. This is why most hearing care professionals will recommend that you still get hearing aids in both ears. By wearing two hearing aids, the devices will mimic the binaural hearing, allowing your ears to work together as intended.
Other benefits of binaural hearing in hearing aids including:
- Enhanced sound localization.
- Better perception of speech, even if background noises are present.
- They make it easier to hear and listen the way we naturally are intended to.
- Helps improve your confidence in your hearing ability in all situations.
- Can facilitate phone communication.
- Control over your hearing aids thanks to ear-to-ear functionality.
- Increased brain power for processing and interpreting sounds.
- Less amplification is required when you wear two hearing aids vs. one.
If you do not correct a binaural hearing loss with two hearing aids, your brain can have difficulty processing sounds. This can sometimes result in fatigue and discomfort. Recent improvements in hearing aids have made it possible for two hearing aids to work together, the same way our ears do naturally.
Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center is Here to Help You with all Your Listening Needs
Living life with a hearing impairment has its own unique set of challenges. Knowing how to handle problems with hearing aids can take some of the inconvenience away from having to wait for a service to be done on your device. If you’d like to discuss further or book in for an appointment, please contact us at Hearing, Balance, & Speech Center to speak with one of our hearing professionals. We are here to help you make the most of your hearing aids and take care of all your listening needs.