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Is It Safe to Use Wireless Hearing Aids?

Bluetooth technology is everywhere, including your wireless hearing aids! Find out about the advantages of wireless technology and whether or not it poses a safety risk to hearing aid users.



Hi, I’m Jim Cuddy. And this is Ask The Hearing Doctors and I’m joined today by Dr. Travis Stehouwer, doctor of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area’s highest-rated audiology practice with over 1,500, five-star reviews. Travis, great to see you. Nice to see you.


So bottom line, is it safe to wear wireless hearing aids?


Yes, it absolutely is. Even if you have a pacemaker, even if you have other implants. If for some reason you have something unusual and your doctor has told you to be careful about it you know maybe double check before you you get them. But for the vast, vast majority of people it’s completely safe. You can wear them all day and it’s not going to be dangerous.


Now of course the technology, it’s Bluetooth technology. Probably everybody’s heard of Bluetooth technology but for those that may not know, what is Bluetooth technology?


So Bluetooth is a specific band of frequencies like a radio frequency. So just like AM is a certain AM radio is a certain frequency range FM radio is a certain frequency range. Bluetooth is just another frequency range. And it connects all sorts of different devices together including hearing aids to phones nowadays.


So let’s talk about some of the advantages of wireless technology because it seems like the sky’s the limit on this?


Yeah, there’s an ever increasing number of ways that you can connect devices together. So when you have hearing aids you can make adjustments using an app on your phone or using the phone itself. You can change programs, change how it’s working. You can listen to phone calls or podcasts or audio books in both ears. There’s more and more different accessories that you can plug into the TV or plug into your laptop. Pretty much there’s there’s a way to connect pretty much anything you could think of to your hearing aids so that you can hear it more clearly.


Now of course you know, usually when we we hear the word radiation we think of something negative and there is something called Bluetooth radiation or EMF/EMR. Is there concern there or is there is there some sort of danger there? I mean radiation is kind of a bad word in our world.


Yeah, so we always want to differentiate between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. So the ionizing radiation is the thing that we usually think of that’s being dangerous. So X-rays, gamma rays, nuclear radiation all of those can cause damage to our cells. And that’s why we have to really be careful and limit how much exposure we have to those things.


But then there’s non-ionizing radiation and that’s what most of the light, radio spectrum is.


So when you’re looking at colors, that is technically speaking, non-ionizing radiation reaching your eyeballs. It’s just that we perceive it as color. So radio frequencies of all different kinds and light are all um types of radiation. The the wave is going from whatever it is you know to you and to your eyes.


And so what type of signal is emitted from a Bluetooth hearing aid?


Yes, so this the specific frequency range is 2.4 gigahertz. Uh and that’s what a lot of different devices use to communicate to each other. Um and it is in any study that’s ever been looked at deemed completely safe at pretty much any exposure amount.


Now are hearing aids considered medical devices and so therefore regulated for safety?


Yes, so there’s two different regulatory bodies that these hearing aids go under. So as you would imagine the FDA is involved. As a class II medical device that has to meet certain safety and testing requirements. But the moment that they add an antenna in it and it communicates wirelessly you’re also involved with the FCC. Uh who is going to regulate what frequency bands you can do and how much energy can be in those signals. So and in that case the the hearing aids have been tested and manufactured for fulfilling both of those criteria.


And overseen by two different agencies. Yeah. Right. So in the end it’s safe to wear them and there are a lot of advantages.


Yes absolutely. I always say you know if you’re not concerned about damage being caused by green or blue light as you’re walking around. The energy in Bluetooth is significantly less than the amount of energy in visible light.


And there you have it. Travis great information. Thanks as always for being with us. Absolutely.


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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).


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