There are a lot of misconceptions out there about hearing loss, hearing aids and what you may or may not be able to do with them. The worry over how life may look different often prevents people from getting hearing aids in the first place. In fact, of the millions affected by hearing loss, it is estimated that just 20 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids use them.
With today’s technology, there are a wealth of options for people with hearing aids for everything from phones to televisions to other hearing devices. This includes something as simple as headphones.
When you’ve been fitted for hearing aids and are in the market for new headphones, however, you plan to use them to enhance your days, these three types are your best bets:
- Over-Ear Headphones – These full-size headphones fit over the entire ear. They may also be referred to as circumaural or around the ear headphones and often completely seal around the ear for better sound quality with minimal background noise. These headphones work well with a variety of hearing aids including In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Behind-the-ear (BTE) and Receiver-in-canal (RIC) models of hearing aids.
- On-Ear Headphones – These lighter weight headphones rest flat against the ears and work well for those that prefer to hear some background noises while using the headphones. On-Ear Headphones are somewhere in between over-ear headphones and ear buds. They work best with Completely-in-canal (CIC) and Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) models of hearing aids.
- Bone Conduction Headphones – For those that prefer to stay tuned into the outside world while using headphones or would rather not wear something on top of their ears, there is a third option. Bone conduction headphones sit just in front of the ear and transmit sound vibrations via your jaw and cheek bones directly to the cochlea in your inner ear. These headphones work best with In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Completely-in-canal (CIC) and Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) models of hearing aids.
Ear bud-style headphones that sit in the ear canal are not an option when you have hearing aids. There are some companies, including well-known sound giant Bose, now coming out with ear buds that are something of a cross between hearing aids and headphones. It’s important to know that these are not a replacement for standard hearing aids. Once you have completed a hearing evaluation and your hearing health care provider has recommended hearing aids, it’s best to get fitted and then find headphones that are compatible with your hearing aid.
Determining the best choice of headphones for you and your needs comes down to several considerations. What will you be using the headphones for? How portable do you need them to be? Do you have a set price range? How important is the sound quality to you? Resources such as Consumer Reports are a good place to look for specific brand recommendations and reviews that can help you narrow down options and find the best headphones to use with your hearing aids.