Bluetooth & Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have come a long way in recent years. As computers advance, hearing aids are able to take advantage of more and more potential as manufacturers work tirelessly to miniaturize technology to fit inside hearing aids. Two major recent developments include Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable battery technology.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Bluetooth is a non-proprietary wireless connectivity protocol. That just means that Bluetooth works with lots of different devices, and doesn’t require any cables. Bluetooth requires only that you “pair” the two devices that you want to connect. In the past few years, a new Bluetooth protocol was unveiled that draws less power than previous versions. This has made it a feasible option to use with hearing aids for extended periods of time.

Bluetooth has a range of around 30 feet, and is found in most of the electronic devices we use on a regular basis. It comes standard in automobile systems, computers, smartphones, tablets, and more.

Bluetooth allows you to stream all kinds of media directly to your hearing aids. Much in the same way you use a pair of earbuds, you can send audio from your smartphone directly to your hearing aids for phone calls, video conferences, music and other media. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled television, you can pair your hearing aids with that to stream the audio from the TV directly to your hearing aids, as well. Bluetooth adapters are also available that let you stream the audio from non-Bluetooth devices to your hearing aids.

Pairing your hearing aids to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth also allows you to control your hearing aids using the manufacturer’s app, which can be downloaded onto your device. Most apps allow you to control the volume, the program, and even separate volume levels for speech and background sound.

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Some apps include a virtual meeting space, where you can have an appointment with your audiologist right through your phone. Your audiologist can then adjust the fitment of your hearing aids right through the app, without requiring you to come to the office.

If you’re interested in having Bluetooth capability with your next pair of hearing aids, talk to us about the options available.

Rechargeable Hearing Aids

For most of the time hearing aids have been around, they’ve used zinc-air batteries. These batteries provide a lot of power while taking up very little space, which has made them the most common battery to use with hearing aids.

Recently, lithium-ion battery technology has advanced to the point that hearing aid wearers have an additional option.

These batteries can now be made small enough to power a set of hearing aids for a whole day, and they have the added advantage of being rechargeable. Simply place them in their charger while you sleep and they’re ready every morning for another full day, even while using Bluetooth.

Rechargeable hearing aids have the added benefit of being more sealed off from the air, making them more resistant to water and dirt than hearing aids that require a battery door. In addition to this, you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries every few days, or keeping extra batteries on hand. Those with dexterity issues will also appreciate that they no longer need to change the tiny batteries in their hearing aids!

Rechargeable hearing aids are really taking off, and there are some great rechargeable hearing aid options out there. One disadvantage is that most hearing aids are only offered with a rechargeable option in the BTE (behind-the-ear) or RIC (receiver-in-canal) body styles. This is because the technology is still not quite powerful enough to provide adequate power in a smaller package. Those desiring a smaller hearing aid with a custom fit will likely still need to use zinc-air batteries.

Frequent travelers may likewise prefer replaceable zinc-air batteries to a rechargeable option. If it’s not always convenient to get to an outlet, you may have trouble keeping your hearing aids charged.

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The hearing aids on the market today are better than ever. Bluetooth and rechargeability are just two of the major advancements in what hearing aids today can do. Your audiologist can help explain to you the differences between available options, and discuss with you whether Bluetooth and/or rechargeable hearing aids are good options for you.
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