By Orland Purcell, Au. D., CCC-A
I have a friend with normal hearing who caught that flu that was going around—twice. It led to an ear infection and a ruptured ear drum. He told me, “As difficult as that’s been, I learned a lot about the challenges faced by people with permanent hearing loss.”
I’ll let him tell you about it.
“There were two main problems involved, even though only one ear was only in one ear.
“First, I couldn’t really make out sounds in noisy areas. Oh, I could hear the sounds, but I couldn’t tell what sound was coming from where. Conversations that were farther away than about two feet were very difficult to understand. I did get the occasional funny look when I thought I was responding to a question. No one said anything, however.
“Second, I couldn’t follow sounds to locate stuff. At my work desk I always keep my cell phone on my left. But since that ear was the infected one, the ringing phone always sounded like it was on my right. When this first started, I missed a couple of calls because I hadn’t realized what was happening—the phone was right where it always was, but it didn’t sound like it.
“There were other issues. At a group lunch after church, I had to make sure I sat with my right ear toward the table. When my wife and I are talking, she has to be on my right side.
“Talking on the phone is a challenge because I put the phone up to—that’s right, my left ear.
“If anyone was more than a few feet away, they might as well have been on the moon—it’s been surprising how much binaural hearing helps you hear at a distance.
“But the biggest surprise has been how mentally exhausting this has been. I did have to have people repeat things much more often than normal, a situation that got very tiring for me and for others.
“I’ve read study after study about how people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from group activities and subsequently become irritable, angry and depressed. I didn’t so much get depressed because I know mine is a temporary situation—I’m slowly getting my hearing back, although my left ear currently distorts everything to the point that it sounds like it’s coming from an angry Mickey Mouse…
“But I did get irritable to the point that my wife noticed and commented. And I did consider avoiding a social event that I ended up attending because, well, there wasn’t another option.
“So I do not recommend voluntarily hearing out of only one ear!”
This is a clear description of why anyone getting hearing aids should get one for each ear. It’s true that hearing out of one ear is better than not hearing at all, but as we read above, it’s only marginally better—and it may lead to greater frustration for the wearer because they may have expected it to help more.
God gave you two ears, just like He gave you two eyes—for orientation and for so many other reasons. So if God gave you two ears, I need to fit you with two hearing aids, assuming you have hearing loss in both ears. A hearing aid for each ear gives you the best opportunity to return to the mainstream. That’s something your friends and family will appreciate as much as you do.
Audio Acoustics, a full-service hearing center owned by Orland Purcell, Au. D., CCC-A has been in business since 1975. Ginger Peugh, Au. D., is his associate. They offer industrial hearing conservation, diagnostic audiology and a wide variety of hearing aids. They are located at 2101 North Midland Drive, Suite Four. The phone number is 689-4327.