Bone conduction hearing aids

Learn about bone conduction hearing aids, how they work and who they can help.

What are bone conduction hearing aids?

Bone conduction hearing aids pick up sound, amplify it and change it to a vibration. The vibration is picked up by the hearing organ (cochlea) as sound, thus bypassing any blockage in the middle or outer ear.

Who can they benefit?

Bone conduction hearing aids are best suited to people with conductive hearing and/or mixed hearing losses, and for people who have hearing loss in one ear (unilateral hearing loss). They can also help people with mixed hearing loss who can’t wear conventional 'in the ear' or 'Behind-the-Ear' (BTE) air conduction hearing aids.

The oscillator in the bone conduction system vibrates the entire skull, so the sound will be heard by both ears if both ears have good cochlear (sensorineural) hearing. In people with single-sided deafness (SSD), a bone conduction hearing aid transmits sound to the good ear by vibrating the skull and stimulating the cochlea on the better side. These interactions become more complex when there are different degrees of sensorineural hearing loss in each ear.

What do they look like?

A bone conduction hearing aid consists of a BTE hearing aid and a bone conductor that is typically incorporated into spectacles for adults and a headband for children. The hearing aid collects and amplifies sound, while the bone conductor converts the sound into vibrations against the skull.

What else should I know?

Bone conduction hearing aids vs bone conduction hearing implants

A bone conduction hearing aid is different to a bone conduction hearing implant, which uses a small titanium implant placed in the skull bone. People who are awaiting surgery for a bone conduction hearing implant often use a bone conduction hearing aid as a temporary solution.

Bone conduction hearing aids vs air conduction aids

Because of the nature of bone conducted hearing aids, a bone conduction hearing aid may not deliver the same results as a conventional air conduction hearing aid. To perform complex listening tasks, the brain analyses separate signals from each ear to determine the direction of sound and understand speech in the presence of background noise. Because bone conduction hearing aids stimulate both ears’ cochleas at the same time, some of these important cues for the brain are reduced or lost. The degree to which this will impact your ability to understand and hear will be determined by many factors, including the nature and degree of your hearing loss.

Disclaimer

The information on this website is for educational purposes, and is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.

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