Headphones are a sure way to go when it comes to watching movies and listening to music without disturbing others! Almost every music lover owns at least one pair of wireless headphones and uses them on a daily basis.
However, one question that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids frequently ask is, “Do hearing aids work with headphones? Can I use both at the same time?”
Even if you are unsure whether you can wear your hearing aids and headphones at the same time, this article will shed more light on the subject.
ARE THERE HEARING AID HEADPHONES?
While there are currently no hearing aid headphones on the market, bone conduction headphones are the closest thing. Bone conduction headphones are wireless Bluetooth headphones that sit on your cheekbones just in front of your ear.
As a result, the sound is transmitted to your cheek and jawbones rather than your eardrum. As a result, the sound bypasses your outer and middle ear and directly stimulates your inner ear via bone vibration.
The advantage of this type of headphone is that it will not interfere with your hearing aid because it sits on your cheekbones rather than your ear.
Furthermore, because bone conduction headphones do not send sound to your hearing aids, they will not cause feedback like other types of headphones. However, because they are not directly implanted in your bone (as with cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing aids), sound transmission is not direct, and thus sound quality may be lacking.
HOW DO HEADPHONES AND HEARING LOSS RELATE TO EACH OTHER?
There are a number of problems associated with headphone use. For one thing, when you wear both headphones and hearing aids, feedback is a major issue. When the headphones press against parts of your hearing aid, the signals from both can become mixed, resulting in the jarring “whistling” noise.
There is also the issue of volume. If you don’t have hearing loss, you can usually tell how loud a song is and adjust it accordingly. When you use a hearing aid, however, it is slightly more difficult to determine how many decibels you are pumping into your ear.
Music fans frequently turn up their volume too high when they could instead adjust the sensitivity of their hearing device. Finally, there’s the physical challenge of comfortably wearing both hearing aids and headphones.
There are ways to do so without being uncomfortable, thanks to advancements in headphone design, but they don’t always deliver stellar sound quality.
For example, bone conduction headphones do not require any contact with the ear, making them ideal for use with ITE hearing aids. However, because they send soundwaves through the jaw, they lose some fidelity in the process.
CAN YOU USE HEADPHONES WITH HEARING AIDS?
The short answer is that you can use headphones if you wear hearing aids, but there are some considerations you should make before purchasing a pair.
To begin with, earbuds such as Apple’s AirPods are out – all hearing aids have a component that sits inside the ear canal and is thus incompatible with earbuds, which also sit inside the ear canal. So it’s headphones only.
When choosing a pair of headphones, the most important factor to consider is fit – not all headphone types will work with all hearing aids. And a proper fit is critical, because if they don’t fit properly, you may experience feedback or have difficulty hearing the sound properly.
When you use headphones over your hearing aids to listen to music, keep in mind that most hearing aids have “music” settings that adjust the gain levels of your hearing aids to give you better sound quality when listening to music than when listening to speech.
If you don’t know how to change the programming on your hearing aid so you can listen to music, ask your audiologist or another hearing healthcare professional for assistance.
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TYPES OF HEARING AIDS AND HOW THEY WORK:
1. In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
ITE hearing aids come in two styles, ones that fill the lower part of the outer ear and ones that fill most of the outer ear.
You can wear ITE hearing aids with over-the-ear headphones or bone-conduction headphones, which are a type of headphones that transmit sound vibrations to the cheekbones and jawbones of the wearer.
2. Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) & Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC)
These go inside the ear canal for a very discreet fit and are able to correct mild to moderate hearing loss. On-ear headphones are recommended for use with these IICs and CICs.
3. In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
These hearing aids are worn in the lower portion of the outer ear, making them comfortable and simple to use. They have longer battery life and can correct a wider range of hearing loss than IIC and CIC hearing aids because they are larger. IIC hearing aids can even be worn with earbuds because they are so small.
4. Hearing Aids for Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
Over-the-ear headphones are the best option for BTE or receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) devices. BTE hearing aids are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from mini BTEs with very thin tubing to larger ones designed to correct severe to profound hearing loss and are compatible with earmolds.
5. Monitor Your Audio Levels Carefully
When selecting headphones for BTE devices, choose a style that fits comfortably over your hearing aid’s microphone. It is normal for there to be some trial and error at first. Just make sure to use headphones that are far enough away from the hearing aid microphones to avoid audio feedback.
Remember not to play audio too loudly once you’ve found the right headphones to wear with your hearing aids. Hearing aids allow you to hear more without increasing the intensity, but noise exposure can still exacerbate your hearing loss.
HEADPHONES FOR HEARING IMPAIRMENT
Headphones for hearing loss can help people with hearing loss listen to music, watch television, and participate in online meetings. They are louder than regular headphones and have volume and tone controls.
If a person has a hearing impairment in one ear, they can adjust the sound settings for each ear’s device separately – this can help protect the ear with better hearing.
These devices may also include a sound amplifier, allowing users to amplify sounds without removing their headphones. However, people should use caution when turning up the volume to avoid hearing damage from excessive sound levels.
Types And Designs
Various types of headphones may suit people with hearing impairment. These include:
- Bone-conduction headphones: These vibrate the skull rather than the air in the outer ear to transmit sound. They may be suitable for people who regularly exercise because they sit in front of the ears and allow users to hear other sounds such as traffic.
- Noise-canceling headphones: These cover the outer ear and block out external noises. People may wear them in areas where noise is potentially hazardous or to block out unwanted noise. Noise-canceling headphones, which may help block out low-frequency sounds, are a more effective version of these. They employ microphones and speakers to perform active noise cancellation, which masks outside noises.
- Noise-canceling headphones: These cover the ears and help people focus on their audio by blocking out outside distractions. They are effective at blocking out mid-to-high frequency sounds and do not require batteries. They use passive noise cancellation, which filters sound using hardware rather than technology.
People may also find headphones in different designs, such as:
- Because they cover the entire ear and press against the skull, over-the-ear headphones have a large cup size and may contact a person’s hearing aid microphones. They also have noise-canceling capabilities.
- On-ear headphones: Press against the ears but do not completely cover them. They are also smaller and lighter than over-the-ear devices and may be appropriate for people who use in-the-ear (ITE) or in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids.
- Earbuds with an elongated structure and a silicone tip that sit inside the ear canal are known as in-ear headphones. They may not, however, be appropriate for people who are concerned about hearing preservation. Other types of headphones may be preferable for noise isolation.
CAN YOU USE EARBUDS WITH HEARING AIDS?
The truth about using wireless Bluetooth earphones such as earbuds with hearing aids is that it is not possible at the time. No matter the style of wireless earbuds with a mic available on the market you are not likely to get one that will allow you to use them together with hearing aids.
Do you know why?
Bluetooth earbuds and hearing aid both sit in the ear or canal of your ear. Is it possible to insert both hearing aids and wireless Bluetooth into your ear canal at the same time? Obviously, no! It’s not going to happen.
This means that if you really want an audio device that can play your favorite songs, you’ll have to go with a headphone. However, if you prefer earbuds to headphones, there is a workaround. What is the answer?
Using Hearing Aids As Earbuds
Technology keeps improving, and the hearing aids industry is not left untouched. Hearing aids now include wireless technology, allowing them to be used as wireless Bluetooth earbuds and headphones.
This means you don’t have to stress about finding the perfect headphone to use with your hearing aids or taking them out completely before listening to music with your earbuds.
You can listen to music with wireless hearing aids by connecting them via Bluetooth to your smartphone or other wireless music players. So, wireless hearing aids serve two functions: they assist you in hearing what is going on around you and they also allow you to enjoy your favorite song tracks.
HOW TO WEAR BOTH HEADPHONES AND HEARING AIDS PROPERLY?
Remember that listening to sounds through headphones can cause hearing loss if not done correctly. There are some tips that can help you wear headphones and hearing aids simultaneously without causing any additional damage.
When you use headphones with hearing aids, the sound is amplified, making it louder. Of course, we’ve already mentioned it. This means that increasing the volume of your headphone or music player will produce a louder sound, which can cause more damage to the ears.
As a result, when using a headphone with hearing aids, always reduce the sound volume. Make sure you don’t use headphones that are too close to your hearing aids or put pressure on them.
As a result, the hearing aid may make a whistling noise. If you hear this noise, it is recommended that you readjust the headphone or replace it with one that is compatible with your hearing aids.
The headphone you choose for your hearing aids should have noise isolation or noise-canceling technology. This will ensure that you don’t turn up the volume above 85 decibels while still being able to hear your music clearly.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WEARING HEADPHONES WITH HEARING AIDS
Many people will tell you that you should not wear headphones because they are a leading cause of hearing loss, particularly in younger generations. Regrettably, this is only partially correct.
- If you wear your hearing aids with headphones, make sure to turn down the music because it will be amplified.
- If the headphones press against the hearing aid or sit too close to it, you may hear feedback, which is a whistling noise coming from the hearing aid. This indicates that you need to reposition your headphones or that you are unable to wear those headphones with your hearing aids.
- Noise-cancelling or noise-isolating headphones are your best bet. The most common issue with headphones is that people turn the volume up much higher than necessary, primarily due to background noise (i.e. people talking on the bus, loud coworkers, etc.). Noise-isolating and noise-canceling headphones help to remove background noise so you don’t overdo it on the volume. Regardless, you should always use a simple sound volume meter app to determine how loud your music is. If you’re going to be listening to music for an extended period of time, you should aim for less than 85 decibels.
CAN YOU USE HEADPHONES AND HEARING AIDS SIMULTANEOUSLY?
Using headphones with hearing aids can be a challenge for many hearing aid users. This is due to the fact that the fit of the hearing aid can interfere with the placement of the headphones.
Other issues may arise if the hearing aid’s microphone is too close to the headphone speakers, resulting in audio feedback.
Good News For Headphone Wearing
Wearing headphones while wearing hearing aids poses no additional risk to your hearing as long as you use them responsibly at normal volume levels.
When it comes to headphone selection, behind-the-ear hearing aids are the most difficult to work with. Both Behind The Ear (BTE) and Receiver In The Canal (RIC) hearing aids have at least some of their components located behind the ear.
Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling headphones may also be a good option for hearing aid wearers because they help block out ambient sound so that the user can focus more on the music.
These headphones emit a soft hissing sound, so it’s best to test them before purchasing to ensure that your hearing aid doesn’t pick up on it.
Hearing aid users in The Canal (ITC) are fortunate because their microphones are placed further away from the ear’s exterior.
Because of this, they have more options for the types of headphones they can wear. This hearing aid is compatible with both on-ear and over-the-ear headphones. Hearing aid users who are completely in the canal (CIC) will have the best luck with headphones.
While expense is not necessarily a good indicator of quality, there are some makers of headphones that are better than others.
Noise-canceling headphones may be a good option, but if you are better off with standard headphones go with a pair that has a good reputation and are comfortable on your head. Comfort is especially important if you wear BTE or RIC phones.
With the information presented above, it is clear that you can wear both headphones and hearing aids if you so desire. However, you must first determine the type of hearing aid you are using before determining the best type of headphones for such hearing aids.
Keep in mind that hearing aids limit your headphone options. Furthermore, if you are a fan of wireless earbuds, it is recommended that you opt for wireless hearing aids that can function as earbuds. This type of hearing aid allows you to remove your headphones if you so desire.
FAQs On Using Both Headphones And Hearing Aids
Can you use headphones if you wear hearing aids?
Hearing aid technology advancements have made it easier than ever to wear headphones and hearing aids at the same time.
Are noise-canceling headphones compatible with hearing aids?
Noise-canceling headphones that completely cover the ear and rest on your head around the ear are compatible with almost all hearing aids. Noise-canceling headphones and noise-canceling earbuds will not work.
Bluetooth earbuds can be used as a hearing aid?
Fortunately, when paired with a smartphone, wireless earbuds like AirPods can be used as an assisted listening device for many older adults with mild hearing loss. They are less expensive than hearing aids, and the wearer is not required to disclose that they are using the devices to amplify sounds.
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