For those who acquire hearing loss, wearing headphones can be a great way to enjoy certain activities they used to enjoy before the onset of the hearing loss. Here is everything you need to know about what to look for in a set of headphones.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
When a person experiences hearing loss, a part of their world depreciates. That experience is something that can come with some huge learning curves. Depending on the degree of hearing loss that a person experiences, a person with hearing loss may have to get used to a multitude of new factors.
For those who develop hearing loss later in life, the ability to hear has shaped their lives in so many different ways—learning the sounds of loved ones' voices that make you feel safe and valued. Also, learning the sounds of traffic and how certain noises can alert you to possible danger. Another hugely impactful area of our listening experience is music.
Music itself is an international language that can be understood and felt by people all over the world. Music sensations like Michael Jackson or the Beatles prove how truly transcendental music can be. It permeates cultures and bridges entire continents. For many of us, some of our fondest memories are linked to our favorite music. Whether it was the moments that shaped our individual musical tastes or simply wonderful memories that got backtracked by our favorite songs.
For the person who is experiencing hearing loss, the concept of losing this precious joy of life is not an easy one. With depreciated hearing -- how can you listen to music?
Types and Degrees of Hearing Loss
Keep in mind that not everyone will have the same type or degree of hearing loss. In fact, there are three general types of hearing loss and seven degrees of hearing loss. The three types of hearing loss are conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
Conductive Hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss indicates one or more of the three compartments of the ear having some kind of blockage. The ear itself is composed of three unique parts that all have a very specific role to play.
A blockage that forms in any of the three compartments can cause conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss could be as insignificant as ear wax build-up, with a simple cleaning being an adequate treatment -- all the way to more complex problems like inflammation due to autoimmune disorders. Trauma can also cause conductive hearing loss if the traumatic event lodges a foreign object inside the ear or impedes sound progress through it.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is simply any defect that impairs the inner ear’s ability to do its job. The inner ear itself is where sound becomes an electrical impulse, and it’s the interaction of the hearing organ with the auditory nerve. When problems arise, hearing loss can occur. This hearing loss can be mild; however, typically, conditions involving SNHL can either present or develop into more severe hearing loss.
Degrees of Hearing Loss
When we lose our ability to hear, we typically loseThere our natural ability to hear a sound at its normal decibel level. A decibel is the measurement of the force that a sound wave presents with. For instance, the soft purr of a cat will have a lower decibel than the roar of an airplane engine as it takes off the airway.
A normal or healthy hearing threshold is typically -10 to 15 decibels. This means that naturally, we can hear very, very soft sounds. As we lose our hearing, our decibel threshold will gradually increase. In certain cases, such as severe or profound hearing loss, all sounds have to be boosted to a substantial decibel level in order to be recognized.
What a Hearing Aid Does
When someone gets a hearing aid, they are essentially getting a device that helps the ear with its new decibel threshold. These devices are designed to capture sound through microphones and then process and transfer the sounds to a higher decibel level via speakers. By doing this, they take sound waves that once were unrecognizable and boost them to a recognizable decibel level.
The Difference Between Prescription and Over the Counter Hearing Aids
When it comes down to getting hearing aids, there are two general routes that you can take. The first is the most well-known and popular, and that’s the route of prescription hearing aids. Prescription hearing aids are specifically made just for you. They are shaped to the unique shape of your ear and they are programmed according to your exact needs.
This means that they don’t help you where you don’t need help. If you are currently only experiencing hearing loss in the midrange of your hearing, then prescription hearing aids will be programmed for these specific frequencies.
The downside to going this direction is that this path comes with a price tag that is typically in the thousands of dollars. The price isn’t necessarily in the manufacturing of hearing aids -- as much as it’s in the process of getting them. Doctors and specialists’ appointments, along with all the hearing tests themselves, get pricey.
The other option you have is that of over-the-counter hearing aids. Here you can find hearing aids at a variety of prices. We have one of the highest-rated over-the-counter hearing aids, and we are able to manufacture and sell them for less than a hundred dollars. This does not mean that they aren’t the highest quality.
The reason for the massive price drop is that over-the-counter hearing aids are not made uniquely for any one person. Their one-size-fits-all trade-off may mean that you can’t get custom programming. However, you also won't have to break the bank. Our cutting-edge sound filtering technology still helps filter out background noise and bring clarity to the sounds you want to hear.
Headphones for Hearing Aid Users
Just because you have hearing aids doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy headphones. In fact, wearing your hearing aids with headphones will help you enjoy music and audio experiences even more!
Headphones themselves are built around the idea of bringing your audio experience closer to your ears with more clarity, precision, and enjoyment. There are also multiple styles of headphones, and they can be found at varying price ranges. Here are some of our favorite styles of headphones and ones we think you should look into!
Over-Ear vs. On-Ear Headphones
The first hurdle to think of when looking at purchasing a new set of headphones is whether you want them to be over-ear or on-ear style wear. This is one of the main style differences to be found when looking for headphones, and both have unique benefits.
The on-ear style is most popular for its ease of access. This headphone style can be quickly applied and taken off and is great for working out. Another aspect of on-ear headphones is that they do well for ventilation allowing the base and back of the ear to be exposed. This is a great option when looking for a set of headphones to wear to the gym.
Over-ear headphones are our personal recommendation for a headphone style to wear with your hearing aids. These are comfortable and fully encompass the entire ear. For someone with a hearing aid, this will mean a more compact listening experience.
The next option that you’ll have available to you is that of noise cancelation. The way that noise-canceling works is that it sends out conflicting sounds that cancel out what could be thought of as sound pollution. It does this without affecting the music or audio that you are trying to experience.
This feature is something that we suggest getting when looking at purchasing headphones. While it will cause the price of the headphones to go up, the concentration and clarity it brings to the audio you're enjoying are worth the extra cash.
When looking for a pair of headphones, don’t let your hearing aids get in the way of making a decision. The best way to think of getting headphones is to make sure that you make a purchase that is comfortable for your ears and one that enhances your listening experience. For us, that typically means the over-ear wearing style and, if possible, noise canceling.
If you are thinking about making an over-the-counter purchase, our one-size-fits-all hearing aids are currently the smallest in-ear hearing aids on the market. This makes them a perfect match for most headphone styles. However, if you have any concerns about wearing hearing aids and headphones with your current level of hearing loss — please consult your primary care provider or ENT specialist.
“The newest headphones and Audien hearing aids make a terrific combination”. - Drew Sutton, MD, Board-Certified Otolaryngologist.
Degree of Hearing Loss | asha.org
Hearing aids: How to choose the right one | mayoclinic.org