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How do I Use Headphones with a Hearing Aid?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is possible to use standard headphones with a hearing aid, but doing so may not be the best option. Much depends on the type of hearing aid and the type of headphones in question, however, and there are also hearing aid compatible (HAC) headphones and other options available as well.

Background noise can often create problems with headphones, and this is especially true if you are using them with a hearing aid. Full cup or “earmuff” style headphones may be a good solution as they enclose the ears, helping to reduce outside noise. Styles with a very deep cup will be more comfortable for hearing aid users, as there is more room, which will help ensure that the headphones are not putting pressure on the hearing aid. Look for an extra deep cup if you wear behind-the-ear hearing aids. An oval cup may be preferable for some people, as it is more like the shape of the ear.

There are also earmuff amplifiers available, which may work well for some individuals. They are generally easy to find and inexpensive, but unfortunately, amplifying headphones may not always provide the best quality sound. Amplifiers may work as a temporary solution until you can find more appropriate headphones.

Using standard headphones with a hearing aid may create more feedback as well. The sound can rebound around inside the earpiece, creating anything from slight noises to loud, painful squealing. Headphones with fabric earpieces may cause less sound to be deflected and, therefore, less feedback. It pays to try out several varieties, as in many cases, finding standard headphones suited to use with hearing aids may be a lengthy process. This is due to the many differences in headset designs and various hearing aid types.

Hearing aid compatible (HAC) headsets are designed specifically for use with a hearing aid, as the name implies. HAC headphones are available in around-the-neck or behind the ear options, and they are made for hearing aids that use a t-coil technology. Set your hearing aid on the t-coil setting, and the sound will be piped right through your hearing aid without the worry of feedback.

If HAC headphones are not an option for you, consider noise-canceling headphones, which neutralize the background noise. This will allow you to better hear the incoming sound without outside distractions.

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Discussion Comments

By anon995812 — On May 29, 2016

Turning up the volume on a headset is not the answer, because decent hearing aids selectively amplify different frequencies to restore normal hearing. Turning up the volume is simply 'shouting louder' and distorting the frequency balance. Some 'can' type earphones that cover the hearing aid microphone will work, but others may create the squeal we all know.

By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 10, 2014

@AnswerMan, I believe the focus of the article is on the use of ear bud type headphones, like the ones included with smart phones and MP3 players. A hearing aid may help bring the user's hearing level up to normal, but headphones may be too overwhelming. The issue might be whether to turn down the hearing aid and turn up the volume on the headphones, or turn down the headphones to prevent the hearing aid from creating feedback.

By AnswerMan — On Mar 10, 2014

I don't suffer from hearing loss myself, but I would think a good set of headphones by itself would compensate for the loss of a hearing aid. If I had significant hearing loss, I would just turn up the volume on the headphones until I was comfortable. Some of those earmuff headphones can get quite loud, even for someone with perfect hearing.

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