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Unilateral versus Bilateral Amplification for Adults with Impaired Hearing
07 August 2020 (online)
This study compared unilateral and bilateral aided speech recognition in background noise in 28 patients being fitted with amplification. Aided QuickSIN (Quick Speech-in-Noise test) scores were obtained for bilateral amplification and for unilateral amplification in each ear. In addition, right-ear directed and left-ear directed recall on the Dichotic Digits Test (DDT) was obtained from each participant. Results revealed that the vast majority of patients obtained better speech recognition in background noise on the QuickSIN from unilateral amplification than from bilateral amplification. There was a greater tendency for bilateral amplification to have a deleterious effect among older patients. Most frequently, better aided QuickSIN performance was obtained in the right ear of participants, despite similar hearing thresholds in both ears. Finally, patients tended to perform better on the DDT in the ear that provided less SNR loss on the QuickSIN. Results suggest that bilateral amplification may not always be beneficial in every daily listening environment when background noise is present, and it may be advisable for patients wearing bilateral amplification to remove one hearing aid when difficulty is encountered understanding speech in background noise.