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Hearing aid for both ears or one?


My mum who is 73 years old has been diagnosed with hearing loss.

She has been told one of her ears has minor loss of hearing and the other, major loss of hearing.

Before we buy any hearing aids, can some one advice me on:

1. Does she have to wear hearing aids in both her ears or will it be enough to wear only on the weaker ear?

2. Do they put hearing aid on the ear that is not weak?



13 Replies

Hi, Are you buying hearing aids or going through nhs, they are free if she needs them? They will put the hearing aid in the ear that is bad, maybe she can manage with 1 if hearing not bad in the other ear. Hope this helps


Hi, Thanks for the reply. My mum is in Sri Lanka and this is not through NHS. That's why I wanted to know if the aids are needed on both ears or just one.


Hi, I only wear an aid in 1 ear, she should be fine


NHS seems to be cutting costs and sometimes only providing one aid, though it is well known that the brain will sort sound out better if two aids are worn. See what the audiologist advises and if she still finds that she is struggling then make a return visit. Best to get it correct right from the start otherwise there can be a tendency to give up wearing them because there seems no benefit.

From personal experience you really do have to persevere and not give up too soon. Aids take some getting used to, I wear mine all the time now though admit to have ended up buying private digital aids...expensive but so much of a difference. Your mother will need support and encouragement from the family, but no nagging! Anyone who has good hearing finds it difficult to understand just what it is like firstly to lose your hearing and then have to wear aids.

I wish her all the best.

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Hi, Thanks for the reply. My mum is in Sri Lanka and this is not through NHS. That's why I wanted to know if the aids are needed on both ears or just one.

Also thank you for the advice on not giving up too soon.


You don't always have to "end up buying".

NHS aids provided by the Outside Clinic are as good as aids I have dispensed privately in my 23 years in the industry.

Hospitals only used to provide one aid because they couldn't afford to give everyone two!

If you have a hearing loss in both ears the Outside Clinic will always advise they can fit you with TWO NHS aids - at the end of the day it is your choice.

You can opt to go privately with them too if you prefer not wearing behind the ear aids.

You should also have Real Ear Measurements done at the fitting stage too - as this guarantees that the aids are tuned as precisely as they can possibly be to your hearing loss. Once this measurement is done, if you still can't hear some sounds, it is because your natural residual hearing can't hear it. Hearing aids can't bring back the hearing you've lost - they can only make the best of what is left.

Don't expect them to eliminate background noise either. That's not possible - you struggle in noise because of how you hear certain frequencies naturally. Group situations will ALWAYS be virtually impossible to hear in.


Wish her the best of luck from me. Nothing worse than feeling isolated because you aren't able to hear very well, often treated as though you are stupid. X


I have been an audiologist for 23 years. Sometimes it's more beneficial to the patient to fit the better ear if the loss in the bad ear is too severe for an aid to really be of benefit.

Ignore comments on here when people say "I only wear one and I'm ok"!! No two people's hearing loss is the same so that's a ridiculous comment to make!

As you have no NHS option and have to buy privately, choose carefully. Without knowing exactly what her results are, nobody can advise you properly on a forum like this.

If it's too much for you financially to buy the two, then try one for the bad ear initially - if she feels unbalanced after 4-5 weeks then you can always buy the other aid then. Price wise I would suggest the cheaper option first as you would be able to upgrade later if the benefit is there and you can afford it.

As I said without knowing the exact results it's impossible to know for certain.

You can't really go by what other users say because their hearing isn't the same!

Hope this helps?


ALL the comments left here are pertinent in their own way. Each of us has a different need and then a different experience with wearing aids. All I can say Stokesie is despite several years of trying NHS and being provided with 'the best' that they had,plus the advice of a good audiologist, I still could not cope with them; whereas I have managed very well for nearly three years with my privately dispensed ones. They are small, comfortable and deliver good sound. Certain environments do still cause problems, but then MOST of the time I cope. I have just learnt to deal with my disability, it is just unfortunate that because it is not visible to others, people with hearing problems do not always get the appropriate patience shown to them......even close family members! As a tutor at college for many years I always introduced myself and openly said that I was rather deaf but not daft!

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The aids through the NHS are as good as anything you can buy privately. 20+ years in the industry tells me that.

Cosmetically a lot of people don't like having aids behind the ear. However, when they are tuned using Real Ear measurements, they really are as good if not better than in the ear aids.

I suspect you either didn't like them cosmetically, and/or you never had a Real Ear measurement?

People who have good hearing do not understand what it's like to be deaf. Essentially because it's never been explained to them what happens.

Thousands of hard of hearing patients have told me "I feel daft because I can't hear people!"

Normal hearing people treat deaf people poorly because they don't understand their issues. Simple as that.

The advice of a "good audiologist" is all well and good. No matter how good they talk, if they don't tune the aids as accurately as possible to your hearing loss, then they are not making the best of your hearing for you.


I am not sure what exactly you mean about Real Ear measurement? I had all the usual tests done in the same way that I had by my private audiologist. My aids were then connected to a computer and adjusted accordingly. They were finely tuned on a follow on visit.

Because my hearing is severe to profound, especially in the higher frequencies, my aids constantly whistled. Cosmetically they were bigger but not obtrusive, and if I could have saved myself spending £2000 I would have continued wearing them, but as I said they just did not help me at all.

I am sure that you are a very well qualified person in this field, but I think that I am intelligent enough to have worked out when I received a good assessment and whether or not my aids are or are not suitable. The graph produced by the NHS audiologist was almost the same as the private and so one would consider that my aids, NHS or other, would have been set up correctly.

Do not take what I have said wrongly, I am not doubting your experience and knowledge, just that I do feel that having had hearing problems for as long as you have been in the industry I have some personal experience.

I is good that we have this site to be able to share experiences and hopefully help people who are feeling isolated.



I agree Chrissie to a certain degree.

If you're loss is severe you could've been fitted with Phonak Nathos UP aids which would be just as efficient if not far more so, than your private aids.

A Real Ear measurement should be done at every fitting. A speaker is placed in front of your head, probes are placed in your ears to monitor how the frequencies are received at your eardrum, and speech phonetics are monitored by the computer - then indicating to the audiologist which frequencies need to be turned up/down more to achieve the very best sound quality the anatomy/physiologyof your ears will allow.

If you've never had that done then I'm afraid your audiologist is not giving the best advice or service.

Being an audiologist for 23 years and being a hearing impaired person for the same period are completely different. If you're not being looked after properly, don't you deserve better? Especially if you're not getting this service when you've paid privately, when we give this to NHS patients for nothing?

I agree - it's a great forum for you to find out whether you're being treated properly.


Also whether you're being tested by an NHS audiologist or privately, the graph (audiogram) should be exactly the same.

It's the programming and suitability of the aids which is paramount.

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