Photo by: Travis Isaacs-www.flickr.com
"When you lose your sight, you lose things.
When you lose your hearing, you lose people."
In the early 20th century sound was recorded with a single microphone, producing a flat and unnatural sound. Most of us still remember the revolution that "stereo" recordings ushered in: a pair of microphones recorded the sound which was played back using a pair of speakers. The more natural and live sound that was produced had listeners calling in their neighbors to marvel. Nat King Cole and Billy Holiday had never sounded so good.
Stereo sounds fit into nature's plan: natural hearing is binaural (accomplished by using both ears). All mammals have two ears that work in concert and enable hearing, identification, and localization of sounds. Healthy hearing functions stereophonically; our brain receives signals from a pair of "microphones" – our ears. Sound reaches one ear a few micro-seconds prior to the other, and is also slightly louder on one side. Our brain can interpret these slight differences and determine exactly where sound originates. When one ear hears better than the other, the information that reaches the brain in biased. Without both ears working together it is difficult, for example, to ascertain the direction from which a car is approaching, or blowing its horn.
When an individual suffers loss of hearing in both ears, audiologists recommend that one's hearing be rehabilitated using a pair of hearing instruments, not just a single hearing aid.
Hearing with both ears better enables the brain to reduce/ignore background noise, thus improving the ability to understand speech in noisy conditions. While a single hearing instrument can offer a significant degree of help when the environment is relatively quiet, the situation becomes far more complicated when several people are talking simultaneously in a café, for example, or in a bustling shopping mall. Family gatherings, parties, or drives in car can become difficult scenarios for the hard of hearing; the use of a pair of hearing instruments rather than just one can help enormously. In addition, the intensity of sound reaching a pair of hearing ears is far greater than that reaching just one. When two hearing instruments are used, therefore, sound requires less amplification. Less sound amplification means less noise amplification, and as a result the ability to understand speech improves. Because less amplification is required, smaller hearing instruments are necessary. An individual fitted with a single BTE (behind-the-ear) instrument may be able to use smaller, concealed, in-the-ear devices when he is fitted binaurally. Remember!
A pair of eyeglasses for a pair of eyes…and a pair or hearing aids for a pair of ears!
Gila Skudowitz, Audiologist (BA, MA) & Eric A. Steiner, Vice President, Steiner Hl ltd (Bsc, MA, MBA), Steiner Hearing Instruments ltd, is a family-owned distributor of hearing instruments. FM systems, cochlear implants, assistive devices, audiological instrumentation, ear molds and ear plugs, batteries, and accessories for the hearing impaired. Founded in 1949 in Haifa by Hermina and Franjo Steiner, it is the oldest and largest company specializing in the hearing industry in Israel.