In the past, if you wore hearing aids and wanted to listen to an MP3 player, you had to remove your hearing aids to insert the device’s earbuds. Using the phone with hearing aids caused interference or feedback. Now, thanks to wireless technology, Bluetooth and assistive listening devices (ALDs), you can enjoy various forms of media without sacrificing the crisp, clear sound your hearing aids provide.

Wireless technology in hearing aids

If you have a wireless hearing aid, this technology allows it to receive streamed signals from other devices like phones, music players and tablets using Bluetooth. Not all hearing aids are wireless, so if you want this capability, express your interest while selecting your hearing aid with your audiologist.

How Bluetooth technology works with hearing aids

Bluetooth technology has been around for a while, allowing the secure transfer of data between two devices over high-frequency radio waves, without causing interference. Bluetooth-capable electronics can stream signals to wireless hearing aids with the help of ALDs.

How ALDs work

When your audiologist pairs an ALD to your hearing aids, it can receive signals from Bluetooth devices and then stream them to match your hearing aid settings. There are a variety of ALDs and many keep your listening experience hands-free. Here are a few other advantages:

  • Personalized listening experience: ALDs essentially turn your hearing aid receivers into earbuds for your device. Some streamers control the volume and even come with remotes (an advantage if you have tiny, hard-to-handle hearing aid controls). You can even sync multiple devices to your streamer. 
  • High-quality, hands-free phone calls: ALDs can bet set to stream your phone’s signal into just one ear so you can still be alert to your environment. If you’re listening to another device when you receive a phone call, a streamer can automatically pause it and connect to the incoming call.
  • Remote-control volume: Some ALDs come with remotes so you can control the volume easier. This is especially helpful if you have tiny hearing aids with hard-to-handle controls.

New listening technology

Although most hearing aids still require an ALD, Apple has recently patented Bluetooth-capable technology that enables wireless hearing aids to be linked directly to devices with iOS platforms without the need for a streamer. Hearing aids compatible with this technology will be labeled “made for iPhone.”

Keep your eyes open for continuing advances in hearing aid Bluetooth technology and ask an audiologist for information on which hearing aids and technology are best suited to your listening needs.