About 1 out of 7 adults in the United States report some trouble hearing, yet only 25% wear a hearing aid. This may be due to cost, accessibility issues, or simply a reluctance to use them.
However, a recent study suggests that wireless headphones such as AirPods and similar devices may be an effective alternative for some individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
Testing AirPods Against Traditional Hearing Aids
The study compared a high-quality hearing aid, a fundamental quality hearing aid, and no hearing aid to Apple AirPods Pro connecting to a smartphone’s listening app. The results showed that the AirPods Pro passed four out of five criteria for being classified as a personal sound amplification product.
The AirPods Pro allowed people to understand conversations in quiet and noisy environments better and hear speech from a distance more clearly.
The study also tested Apple’s AirPods 2 earbuds, but they could have performed better and passed two out of five criteria for the electroacoustic standards.
An Effective Alternative
Although Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds are not a perfect solution for hearing loss, they offer a viable alternative for those who cannot or choose not to use traditional hearing aids.
Hearing aids are generally expensive, costing thousands of dollars for a good quality device. On the other hand, wireless earbuds are much more affordable and, as this study suggests, can provide a comparable level of hearing improvement in certain situations. Many individuals with mild hearing loss may already own these wireless earbuds, so using them as a hearing aid would be a matter of downloading an app.
This is another step forward in providing people with more options and access to improve their hearing, ultimately leading to better communication and quality of life.
In August 2022, the FDA finalized its decision to establish a new category for over-the-counter hearing aid devices. This allows people to purchase some types of hearing aids without a medical exam or prescription, providing even more accessibility to improved hearing.
Apple AirPods cannot be claimed as a “medical device” without FDA approval, but this recent study indicates that they might be able to be used in the same way as traditional hearing aids.
Get Your Hearing Tested
If you think you may have hearing loss, it is important to get your hearing tested by your doctor or an audiologist. They can determine the type and extent of your hearing loss and recommend the best options for treatment.
Identifying the problem and taking action early can help prevent it from getting worse and alleviate some of the other symptoms associated with hearing loss.
Whether it is traditional hearing aids, wireless earbuds, or other assistive listening devices, there are various options available to help improve your hearing.
Don’t let the high cost or stigma of hearing aids prevent you from seeking treatment. There are now more options than ever to help you regain your hearing and ensure that you take advantage of all important conversations or experiences.