Several leading hearing aid manufacturers now offer hearing aids that are equipped with Bluetooth technology. This technology allows you to stream sounds wirelessly from your phone, computer or television directly into your hearing aids. Many of our clients who are using this technology find it indispensable in their daily life. But is it a necessary feature, or are conventional hearing aids still suitable for most people? In this article, we’ll explore some of the pros and cons of Bluetooth hearing aids.
So what is a Bluetooth Hearing Aid?
Bluetooth is a communications standard that allows devices to connect with each other across short distances (less than 10 meters) and transmit information, such as sounds. The Bluetooth capability in a hearing aid allows it to connect wirelessly to your iPhone (or another smartphone), iPad (or tablet), TV or computer.
Pros of Bluetooth Hearing Aids
There are many advantages to using Bluetooth hearing aids. One of the benefits we hear most frequently from our clients is the ease with which you can take calls through your phone. Simply press a button on your hearing aid to accept an incoming call, and you’re receiving high-quality sound directly into your ears. The microphone on the hearing aids also pick up your voice and send that back to the caller, allowing you to take calls without ever touching the phone (this can be very handy if you are outdoors or driving).
You can also connect directly to a media streamer on your TV, which means you can enjoy the television at a volume you enjoy directly through your hearing aids – no more arguments with your significant other about how loud the TV should be.
Another use we had a client recently mention was the ability to enjoy a Skype call with their grandchildren using their iPad or computer. With the audio streamed directly into their hearing aids, the loved the high-quality sound that went with their video call to their family abroad.
Cons of Bluetooth Hearing Aids
While Bluetooth hearing aids are definitely great for making life easier, there are some drawbacks to this technology. The most important of these is battery use. Bluetooth capability drains the battery of any device and hearing aids are no exception. The extra battery consumption and cost associated with this is something you should consider, especially if you only expect to use the Bluetooth capability very occasionally.
Other things to consider
Some Bluetooth hearing aids use a streamer, a small remote-like object that is often worn around your neck or in a pocket. This can be a nuisance for some people as you need to have the streamer nearby in order to take advantage of the Bluetooth capability.
We are often asked the question, is safe to have a Bluetooth transmitter on (or in) my ear all day? By design, hearing aids transmit extremely low powered radio signals. In fact, the typical mobile phone will transmit between 80 and 2000 times the amount of energy of a Bluetooth hearing aid.
Is a Bluetooth hearing aid right for you?
It depends on what you’re looking for with your hearing aids. Bluetooth hearing aids do offer the best sound quality for phone calls, media and TV. Bluetooth hearing aids are also generally more expensive and lose battery quicker than traditional hearing aids.
If you’d like to find out more talk with one of our audiologists about your personal circumstances.