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Bluetooth-enabled Hearing Aids

Developers of hearing aids are always looking for new and improved ways of making hearing aids better and more useful in people's lives. Bluetooth technology is being used to make it easier for hearing aid users to connect their hearing aids to various devices for improved sound quality directly from the sound source.

Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids can be wirelessly connected to devices such as televisions, cell phones, FM systems, GPS systems, and PDAs, with the use of Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth technology works similarly to wireless Internet, where sounds are sent through an invisible electronic signal.

Bluetooth hearing aids come in most types, including behind-the-ear (BTE), mini BTE, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal styles, though each manufacturer provides a different array of products and accessories that are Bluetooth-enabled.

What are the Benefits of Bluetooth Hearing Aids?

As with any hearing aid, Bluetooth-enabled devices have some benefits and downsides. One benefit is that using Bluetooth technology allows you to obtain a better sound quality when using your hearing aids with your favorite electronic devices. Think of them as a wireless pair of headphones: they are convenient and cordless for high-quality sound.

The telecoil was a lifesaver for hearing aid users to adapt to new technologies like cell phones and MP3 players. Similarly, Bluetooth is quickly replacing telecoils. Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids make connecting to modern technology even easier for hearing aid users. Making phone calls, conference calls, and technology use can be an enjoyable experience for the tech-savvy user. Bluetooth can also eliminate the annoyances of technology use with traditional hearing aids such as feedback and static noise interference.

What are the Disadvantages?

When Bluetooth is in use in a hearing aid, the microphone inside the hearing aid may be shut off, depending on the hearing aid you are using and the way it is set by your Audiologist. This can have its disadvantages, as you won't have amplification of other noises around you during Bluetooth use. However, in most instances your Audiologist can set the hearing aid mics to continue to operate while you are using the bluetooth technology.

Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids do require set up to work with electronic devices, so they are not for the gadget-shy individual. They also sometimes require the hearing aid wearer to use a small transmitter accessory. The transmitter converts the Bluetooth signal from the electronic device or mobile phone, to a technology that is understood by the hearing aid. Being out of range of the transmitter means that the Bluetooth signal will not reach the hearing aids. Depending on the hearing aid company, there are some blue tooth compatible hearing aids that do not require this transmitter when used with specific electronic devices.

Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids and accessories can also be pricey, and may not be worth it for someone who doesn't plan on using the Bluetooth technology that often.

If you are interested in Bluetooth-enabled hearing devices, talk to Dr. Green about all of your options. Let her know the listening situations you are in each day, and the types of other devices you use throughout the day. Ask to see a model and experience a real-time demonstration. Dr. Green will learn about your current use of technology and determine how Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids could make that a better experience