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What Are “Wireless” Hearing Aids?

Dear Adam,

My current hearing aids are 6 years old and I’m in the market for something new. I’ve been researching hearing aids which is how I came across the Better Hearing Blog. You have great articles that have been very helpful to me. In my research I keep seeing ads for “wireless” hearing aids. Can you please help me to understand if this is just plain hype or something I should consider when choosing my next set of hearing aids?

John S. from Waukesha, WI

Dear John,

When hearing aids were first made some had wires that went from a box worn on the body (hence the name “body aid”) to a button receiver in the ear. blog_bluetooth1-audicus-hearing-aidsAs time went on the wires got shorter and the hearing aid was worn over the ear. Eventually the wires were gone and all the components were housed in one case that was worn behind the ear. Soon just about all hearing aids were “wireless.”

Today, the term “wireless” has a whole new meaning when it comes to hearing aids. Wireless means that the hearing aids communicate wirelessly to other devices. The best wireless technology allows two hearing aids to operate together as one complete system, instead of acting as two independent devices. They communicate to each other, effecting how each hearing aid processes the sounds. The left aid knows what the right one is hearing from the right side and then processes the sound accordingly, taking into account the head-shadow effect and vice versa. This allows for better hearing in a noisy environment. In less sophisticated wireless hearing aids only the volume control and the program button communicate to each other. When you change the volume and the environmental program in one hearing aid it will do the same in the other.

Wireless also means that the hearing aid can receive signals wirelessly from devices that can:wifimic-ite-tranference-300

  • Regulate the volume and environmental programs of the hearing aid
  • Answer a cell-phone so one can hear the caller right in the hearing aid.
  • Allow one to hear the TV loud and clear in the hearing aid while others in the room can hear the TV at a comfortable level or not at all.
  • Pick up one’s significant others voice via a body worn mini-microphone (this puts the others person’s voice in front of the background noise, as in a restaurant). These mini-microphones can also be plugged into devices as: mp3 players and even into a FM receiver as found in numerous churches and auditoriums to assist those with hearing loss.

Some wireless hearing aids utilize a neck worn induction loop that works with the telecoil in the hearing aid to receive signals from other devices. Connectivity_Accessories_GB-resized-600Other hearing aids utilize FM signals to receive signals from other devices without the need for a neck worn induction loop. Combinations of FM and Blue-tooth technology are used to make this wireless connectivity possible.

People ask, “How they can they make hearing aids better?” This is how. Wireless hearing aid technology offers many benefits to the hearing aid wearer, including: improved speech understanding in noise, easier access to controls, the ability to connect to other media devices, such as: televisions, mp3 players, radios, computers, cell phones, and more. These technological advancements have been very beneficial to many hearing aid wearers who need to access other ways of communication while at work or during other leisure activities. The latest wireless technological improvement is the control of the hearing aids with a Smart Phone, through the use of a phone app.

If you have a question about your hearing aids or hearing aids in general, please feel free to send me an email at adam@icanhearthat.com.

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About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at adam@icanhearthat.com and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at www.icanhearthat.com.

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