Hearing Aids and Bluetooth connectivity – What’s all the fuss about?

Over the past several years’ hearing aid manufacturers have introduced coupling devices to allow their hearing aids to talk to Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, landline phones, televisions and more recently remote microphones.

If I have a new properly fit hearing aid, why would I need something like this?

The reality is, even perfectly fit hearing aids cannot make up for some inherent issues associated with a hearing loss and hearing aids.

Telephone use (mobile or landline) – when you put a telephone receiver up to your hearing aid you may have trouble finding the best place to hold it in order to receive the clearest signal and once you find that perfect spot you might get some feedback or whistling. With Bluetooth connectivity the telephone signal is delivered directly to your hearing aids. Not only eliminating the need to find the “sweet spot” but also allowing you to listen to your telephone conversation binaurally (or through both ears).

Television – Newer hearing aids help individuals hear better in a variety of situations using technology to separate or differentiate speech from noise. They do this by spatially separating the speech and noise in an attempt to prioritise speech over noise. Because with television both the speech and the noise originate from the same speakers, it is impossible to spatially separate the two and as such the negative effects of distance from the television and reverberation in the room can wreak havoc on your ability to hear the television. Bluetooth devices attached to your television allow it to send the auditory information directly to your hearing aids eliminating distance and reverberation as issues.

Remote microphones – When individuals have usable hearing in only one ear or they have a more severe hearing loss, they often have difficulty hearing in a car, in a meeting or when there is a lot of competing noise. With a remote microphone coupled to a Bluetooth streaming device the hearing aid user can have the person they are communicating with attach a small microphone to their lapel. This allows that person’s voice to be delivered directly to the wearers hearing aids.

Most recently, this Bluetooth coupling technology has been made available to more individuals because connectivity is being offered at many different technology levels and is finally available in hearing aids designed for severe hearing losses.

*remote microphone technology is presently only available with Oticon hearing aids.

Dr. Kim McCarthy, M.Sc., Au D
Audiologist, The Hearing Specialists