Can You Wear Only One Hearing Aid?
by Hear Clear on Oct 26, 2023
There are many reasons why someone might have hearing problems in just one ear: from unilateral hearing loss to traumatic injury, not all hearing impairment is caused by age. But can you wear just one hearing aid? In the following blog, we’re going to take a look at some reasons why a singular hearing aid might be beneficial, when not to wear just one, and where you can buy single, affordable hearing aid devices in the UK. Let’s get started!
What is a Hearing Aid?
As you likely already know, a hearing aid is a small, electronic device designed to amplify sound in the ears. Made up of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker, a hearing aid allows those with hearing loss to better understand and perceive their auditory environments, while enhancing communication and even spatial understanding.
And as we live in an era of rapidly advancing technology, so too have hearing aid devices evolved; from the smallest hearing aids - aka invisible in-ear models - to slightly more conspicuous behind-the-ear devices, there’s a hearing aid for every need and aesthetic concern.
Can You Wear Only One Hearing Aid?
So, can you wear a hearing aid in just one ear? The short answer is yes: as we alluded to above, many people experience hearing loss in just one ear - referred to as unilateral hearing loss - and in such cases, wearing a hearing aid in the affected ear makes perfect sense.
Similarly, some may find that their level of hearing impairment varies significantly from ear to ear; this could mean that the ear with the more pronounced hearing loss may benefit from a hearing aid, while the other might not. In this case, wearing a single hearing aid is equally acceptable.
Note: While some people do experience unilateral hearing loss, it’s important to point out that it’s quite uncommon, and most people experience hearing loss in both ears. This is especially true if the hearing loss is linked to old age.
Is it OK to Use Only One Hearing Aid?
Wearing only one hearing aid can indeed be beneficial for those with unilateral hearing loss or varying degrees of hearing loss in each ear. But are there any potential downsides? Yes - but only if you’ve been instructed to wear two.
This is because of something known as binaural hearing: when sound is received from both ears, it provides a sense of direction, which helps you better understand your auditory environment. So, if someone with hearing loss in both ears chose to only wear one device, they’d potentially miss out on this spatial understanding of sound. Additionally, relying solely on one hearing aid when both ears have a hearing impairment might lead to an imbalance in auditory input, possibly making certain sounds or conversations harder to understand.
That said, it’s important to note that for those with unilateral hearing loss (or an obvious disparity in hearing capabilities between their ears) there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a single hearing aid.
Can You Buy Just One Hearing Aid?
So, the burning question - can you buy a single hearing aid or are you obliged to fork out for both? The good news is, yes you absolutely can buy just one!
At Hear Clear, we recognise that every individual's hearing journey is different, and that’s why we offer different types of hearing aids! And most importantly, all of our hearing aid devices are available in either single or pair format, and you can even choose whether you’d like a hearing aid for your left or right ear - so you’re guaranteed ultimate comfort.
What to Do If I Need a Hearing Aid for One Ear Only?
If you find yourself in a position where you think you only require a hearing aid for one ear, the first and foremost step is to consult with a healthcare professional; they’ll be able to provide a comprehensive hearing assessment and recommend the best course of action based on the specifics of your hearing profile.
In some cases, you might be simply experiencing referred pain or hearing loss related to something else going on in your eye, nose or throat area - everything from an ear infection to TMJ dysfunction can cause unilateral hearing loss. But if you do end up needing a hearing aid, make sure you familiarise yourself with it before using it full-time.
Can I switch my single hearing aid between my ears?
No. Generally speaking, hearing aids are customised for a specific ear, and designed based on its shape and the nature of the hearing loss. Switching between ears isn’t likely to be beneficial.
Can I upgrade from a single hearing aid to a pair later on?
Yes, if your hearing condition changes or if you decide that you'd benefit from binaural hearing aids, you can always upgrade. Most ear specialists, like us at Hear Clear, will be more than willing to assist in this transition.
How will I know if I should switch from one hearing aid to two, or vice versa?
Regular ear tests can be a great way to monitor your hearing and get on top of any changes before they get worse. You should also consider the value in feedback from friends and family; if you experience difficulty in pinpointing sound direction or understanding conversations, this may also indicate the need for an ear appointment and a change in strategy.