Can AirPods be used as a hearing aid?

About similarities and limitations
Last update on Apr, 17, 2023

AirPods as hearing aids: what you need to know

Airpods and hearing aids are not interchangeable devices. While AirPods do not adapt to individual needs, hearing aids are very personal objects that have been adapted to the specific needs of each user. For this reason, it is crucial to consult an audiologist if you think you may be experiencing hearing loss and are considering hearing aids as a potential treatment option.

Use AirPods as a sound amplifier

AirPods can be used as a sound amplifier by enabling the "Live Listen" feature. This can be particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty hearing in noisy environments, as the AirPods can be placed close to the sound source, such as a speaker or TV, and the sound is then transmitted directly to the user's ears.

Hearing and accessibility with AirPods

Headphone adaptations for the AirPods

In iOS 14, Apple introduced the "Headphone Accommodations" feature that allows you to amplify soft sounds and adjust the audio for a smoother and clearer sound. This is a feature that helps a lot those with hearing problems as it adjusts the audio output of the device to compensate for any hearing loss. However, this is no substitute for an expert audiogram, which remains the most accurate way to diagnose hearing loss.

Using Live Listening with AirPods

AirPods "Live Listening Mode" is a feature that allows users to use their device as a remote microphone to help individuals hear more clearly in challenging listening environments. While this feature may be helpful, this is no substitute for professional hearing aids or hearing healthcare. For this reason, the opinion of a professional is the best solution to improve the daily life of those experiencing hearing problems.

Transparency Mode for AirPods Pro

The "Transparency Mode" feature of AirPods enables users to hear external sounds while simultaneously listening to audio through the earphones. However, it is important to note that this feature is not intended to substitute professional hearing aids or hearing healthcare.

Share audio via AirPods

With AirPods, it is also possible to share audio with another person wearing AirPods. This feature can be beneficial for individuals with hearing difficulties as they are aided by another person who can hear the same audio.

Is my smartphone compatible with my hearing aid?

Most next-generation hearing aids which are compatible with smartphones use a wireless system for more comfort and convenience.

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Limitations of AirPods as a hearing aid

While AirPods can be helpful for individuals with hearing difficulties, they should not be regarded as a substitute for hearing aids. It is important to note that hearing aids are considered medical products and their usage without the guidance of a specialist can potentially cause harm.

Airpods are not medically regulated

AirPods are designed as wireless earphones for listening to audio and making phone calls, and while they possess some features that can aid individuals with hearing difficulties, they are not intended to function as medical-grade hearing aids. 

Battery life

The average battery life of the AirPods lets you have about 5 hours of listening time or 3 hours of talk time. The battery of a hearing aid can last, depending on the type and frequency of use, from 3 to 22 days.

Risks of misdiagnosis

While AirPods may seem to help you hear better, self-diagnosis can be harmful without expert advice and make your hearing worse.

Inadequate treatment of severe hearing loss

AirPods are technological devices that have not been designed for people with significant hearing problems and, therefore, cannot be considered an adequate treatment for those suffering from hearing loss.
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Advantages of hearing aids compared to Airpods

There are many benefits of using hearing aids over AirPods. In addition to adequate and sustainable long-term treatment and diagnostic accuracy, hearing aids guarantee effectiveness, customization, medical regulation and subsidies from the government or health insurance.

AirPods won’t replace a hearing aid

For those experiencing difficulties with their hearing, a professional hearing aid is the best and most appropriate solution to reduce or resolve the discomfort. Depending solely on AirPods may not be enough, and self-diagnosing hearing problems can be risky, possibly resulting in hearing impairment if not appropriately treated by a healthcare expert.

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