Hearing is one of the five senses we rely on to take in information from the world around us, to help us make decisions, to stay safe, and to stay connected. Our sense of hearing developed over centuries, along with sight, taste, touch, and smell, to help us survive. They work in conjunction with each other; when one sense is impaired, another one steps up. For example, when ancient humans were in the dark, they relied on hearing to gather information about their surroundings. Without the conveniences of fire or electricity, it was footsteps on leaves or rocks that notified them that they were not alone.
Even more remarkably, hearing does not stop working – unlike sight. When we fall asleep, we wake up because of an alarm. We take in sound information from all 360 degrees of our surroundings. Our auditory systems can pick up sounds that are close by, like a fan next to our bed, to sounds that are far outside our homes, such as a distant ambulance siren. With two ears, this is known as binaural hearing – the harmonizing of sounds picked up by both ears.
For the most part, when you experience hearing loss, both ears are affected. In some cases, people experience single-sided hearing loss, and there are specially designed hearing devices for these instances. For people who experience hearing loss in both ears – bilateral hearing loss – one hearing aid just isn’t enough.
Think about it – when you listen to music through a stereo, isn’t the sound better when you’re using both speakers? Similarly, two hearing aids are better than one, when you’re experiencing bilateral hearing loss.