Can Headphones and Hearing Aids Be Worn At The Same Time

 

Thanks to my experience in this field, a friend of mine - she has just started wearing hearing aids – recently asked me: “Can I wear headphones and hearing aids at the same time?”

Once I ended up answering the question, she came up with:

  1. Won't headphones adversely impact my existing hearing problems?
  2. Won't they mess up with my hearing aids?

At the cost of sounding equivocal, here's what I said to her: it depends on your hearing aid AND your headphones.

Not seemed content with my answer, she rolled the dice again:

  1. What type of hearing aids restrict the headphones and hearing aid wearing at the same time?
  2. What are the best headphones for wearing aid?

To answer all these questions, I decided to come up with this article

 

What type of hearing aids restrict the headphones and hearing aid wearing at the same time?

Alt+What type of hearing aids restrict the headphones and hearing aid wearing at the same time?

Below mentioned are the two types of hearing aids that might pose this problem:

  • Behind the Ear (BTE)

The reason why BTE hearing aids restrict headphones and hearing aid wearing simultaneously is that of their positioning. For, this hearing aids houses all its major components in a shell that sits behind your ear. As a result, its extra bulk gets in the way of headphones.

  • Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)

Just like the BTE hearing aids, the majority of the components of RIC hearing aids sit behind your ear. Even though these components aren't naked – as they are stored in a compartment – the bulk of the compartment still interferes with headphone wearing, hence giving way to a painful headphone wearing experience.

 

What are the best headphones for hearing aid?

Now that we've seen which hearing aids tamper with headphone wearing, it's time we turn our attention to the best headphones for hearing aid.

On-Ear Headphones

Granted, these headphones don't provide as comprehensive noise cancellation as their over-ear counterparts. Still, provided you can afford to forsake the noise cancellation feature, the on-ear headphones – thanks to their small size and compact dimensions –would dovetail brilliantly with your hearing aids. The reason why on-ear headphones are the best for hearing aids lies in their design.

Since they sit atop your ears – the opening between these headphones give your hearing aids the necessary space to pick up sound waves. Equally important is the fact that these headphones do not require placing anything in your ear, hence leaving that space vacant for your hearing aids to fill.

Here are some hearing aids which work hand-in-glove with on-ear headphones:

  • Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)
  • Invisible-in-Canal (IIC)
  • Completely-in-Canal (CIC)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • In-the-ear (ITE)

Over-Ear Headphones

In contrast to on-ear headphones, the over-ear headphones sit atop your ears. That is, while the on-ear headphones only cover your ear canal, the over-ear headphones cover the entire ear. Hence the reason why they are so good at providing passive noise-cancellation.

Whether or not you are wearing aids, we recommend that you should go for a noise-canceling over-ear headphone. Remember, there are two types of noise-cancellation – active and passive – and you should always go for the former. For, the latter comes as a given due to the design of over-ear headphones.

The reason why we are recommending active noise-cancellation is that it provides crystal clear listening experience by canceling out outside noise. That means you'd only reason what is useful and not surrounding chatter.

Here are some hearing aids which work brilliantly with over-ear headphones:

  • Completely-in-Canal (CIC)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • Receiver-in-Canal (RIC)
  • Invisible-in-Canal (IIC)
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE)

Bone Conduction Earphones

As suggested by their very name, “bone conduction” headphones let you hear the sound by conducting it through the bones of your face (cheekbones and jaw bones).

Consequently, the sound waves coming out of these earphones bypass your outer and middle ear (ear drum) and directly hit your inner ear (hearing organ). It is this operating mechanism which makes bone conduction earphones the best for wearing with hearing aids.

For, since they don't require your ears to send noise, bone conduction earphones let them free to take in outside noise. As a result, you can hear both outside noises as well as music at the same time. And while almost all hearing aids are compatible with Bone conduction earphones, following are the best-suited.

  • Completely-in-Canal (CIC)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • Invisible-in-Canal (IIC)

 

Things to consider when buying hearing aids with headphones



So far in this article, we were concerned with headphones which are – or aren't – compatible with hearing aids. In this section, we'll look at the worth having features of headphone-compatible hearing aids. Take a look

  • On-ear headphones are damaging

Obviously, the amount of damage a headphone can do to your ears depends on its volume level. The louder the headphone, the more dangerous it could be to your hearing. Hence, the next time you put on a headphone, tone down its volume.

That said, while all headphones can be dangerous, on-ear headphones are especially notorious for their ability to cause harm. That is, because, these headphones - by allowing in outside noise – force you to turn up their volume to hear correctly.

As a result, when you listen to music for extended periods at high volume, your eardrums suffer. This, in the long term, might cause hearing problems. Therefore, when buying hearing aids with headphones, avoid on-ear headphones.

  • Go for noise cancellation

As stated earlier, the reason why on-ear headphones are dangerous is that they force you to crank up the volume by letting in outside noise. That means that you should go for those headphones which allow less outside noise to come in.

That's where noise cancellation comes into play. By removing the background noise at best – or reducing it, at worst – it doesn't require you to turn up the volume to hear clearly.

  • Get adjustable headphones

One of the reasons why seemingly innocuous headphones become painful to wear with hearing aids is because they aren't adjustable. Their lack of adjustability means you can do nothing even if these headphones push on your hearing aid or sit close to it.

It is for this reason that we recommend getting adjustable headphones. Either by rotating their ear cups or by increasing/decreasing the length of their headband, these headphones make listening comfortable.

  • Spot Fake Hearing Aid Headphones

Unfortunately, the market is inundated with cheap, flimsy headphones claiming to be the best mate for hearing aids. Fortunately, we have got some clues as to how you can detect the same.

The first telltale sign of fake hearing aid headphones is their inferior packaging. Though you might not notice it at first, juxtaposing different headphones' packages should make this point clear.

Second, fake hearing aid headphones have unreadable text – or text in some language which you cannot decipher. Also, once you open their box, the quality of the user manual would also be inferior.

 

What to know when wearing hearing aids with headphones?

Since you have come this far, it means you've already decided which headphone complements your hearing aid, bought it, and are now looking forward to trying it. But before you do that, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Keep the volume down

Though such a simple advice, most of us aren't able to follow it. That's because, either we totally forget it when we are immersed in the song or we don't know at what level the volume becomes loud.

To save you from some brainy calculations, here's what you should do: install a volume-app meter in your smartphone. Available for both Android and iPhones, this app lets you know when the music becomes loud.

  • Follow the 60/60 rule

Loud volume on its own can be dangerous to your hearing. Add the length of your listening time to the equation, and the combination might become catastrophic. It is for this reason that you might want to follow the 60/60 rule.

This rule states that you should listen to music for at 60% volume for 60 minutes at one time. Once any of the two parts start to exceed, it's time to switch off.

  • Increase the gap

Headphones that sit too close to your hearing aids might pose the problem of interference. That is, they might produce a whirling or whistling sound in your ear. This sound indicates that you should increase the gap between your headphone and your hearing aid.

Unfortunately, since all headphones aren't adjustable, you might not be able to increase the gap provided you don't have a high-end headphone. In such a case, you might have no other choice but to find a replacement for your headphones.

 

Consider the alternatives

Just like most things in our lives, there are alternatives to hearing aid headphones. And guess what, these alternatives can perform as well – or even better – than the products which they are replacing.

  • Hearing Aids with built-in headphones

You read it right; there are hearing aids nowadays which double as built-in headphones. Have doubts? Take the example of AGX® Hearing aids, for instance. These aids – which arrive in pairs – use a technology which allows both to function as a single unit, hence functioning as a hearing-aid headphone.  

However, if you are deterred by their price tag – and want something less expensive – go for Bluetooth headphones. They let you stream audio from your TV, take calls from your smartphone, and listen to music from any device with minimal fuss.

  • Made for iPhone® Hearing Aids

It is time for the Android users to look elsewhere as these hearing aids are only for iPhone users. Perfectly compatible with all Apple devices, these hearing aids allow you to use them with Siri, FaceTime audio as well as all Apple-specific media.

 

Conclusion

Can Headphones and Hearing Aids be worn at the same time? It was this question that we kicked off this article. And as the ensuing discussion showed, the answer is a resounding YES. That said, you still need to be careful about the type of headphones you're wearing with your headphones.


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