Bone conduction headphones have become increasingly popular among people experiencing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss or NIHL. But this does not mean you should make your purchase right away. There’s far more to learn about this exact topic!
You can use Bone Conduction Headphones at low volumes with NIHL and listen to music and other formats. Bone conduction, a system that conducts sounds to the inner ear through the skull, keeping the ear canals open, is already used to make bone-anchored hearing aids.
Bone conduction headphones utilize a simple body function that allows you to hear sound through your cheekbones for those with some forms of hearing loss. Here, we’ll look at how these headphones work for those with noise-induced hearing loss. But before we peek into the details of NIHL and its connection to bone conduction headphones, we must first understand the mechanism of bone conduction and how exactly it improves your hearing experience.
What Is the Function of Bone Conduction?
Bone conduction is not limited to those with hearing issues. Just about every person experiences bone conduction. But they don’t distinguish the sound being sent to them because noise usually passes through the ears.
For someone who uses bone conduction headphones as a hearing aid system, the technology utilizes the body function to bypass the ear canal entirely, instead sending sound waves to the wearer by vibrating the bones.
Bone Conduction Headphones in this article are in comparison to traditional ear or headphones and hearing aids that send sound waves directly into the ear canal.
Are Bone Conduction Headphones Any Better Than Traditional Hearing Aids?
Bone conduction headphones work as an excellent temporary solution if you have gradual or permanent hearing loss in one ear or both ears. You can also use bone conduction headphones if your middle or outer ears don’t transmit noise and sound correctly.
Traditional hearing aids amplify acoustic sounds which enter through your ear canal. Yet, if you use bone conduction headphones, the function can offer better or alternative sound quality, require much less energy, and can be more comfortable to wear because nothing is in your ear.
Moreover, these headphones can help prevent ear canal or middle ear diseases, humidity, and eventual irritation that are part-and-parcel of some traditional hearing aid designs. As such, bone conduction headphones may offer a more satisfying experience and are affordable to boot, which works well for anyone who requires an effective temporary hearing aid that doesn’t break the bank.
Can a Person With NIHL Use Bone Conduction Headphones?
Yes, as someone with a diagnosed case of NIHL, you can wear bone conduction headphones. But keep in mind that these headphones are not a permanent solution.
NIHL itself can be a temporary or permanent condition, and unless your physician confirms that you have permanent hearing loss, you can continue wearing these headphones. Otherwise, getting something like a BAHA Hearing Aid Implant may be necessary and more comfortable and practical.
However, if you have temporary NIHL, which is good news, these headphones help ease the way back to your standard hearing mode. They’re less fiddly, so there’s no problem with wearing them during your everyday chores. Bone conduction headphones are also connectable with your phone, laptop, or tablet, so you can listen to music or get your calls without worrying about hearing through one ear.
If you wear additional hearing aids, bone conduction headphones don’t cause any wearing issues since you don’t have to remove your aids to put on the headphones.
Can You Use Bone Conduction Headphones With Tinnitus?
Yes, you can. The same source of noise that causes NIHL can also cause tinnitus. However, both differ in effect. NIHL results from the delicate hair in your ear becoming damaged due to excessive noise. But it is these sensitive hairs that send random electric impulses to your brain. Your brain interprets those impulses as sounds and registers them, causing tinnitus.
When you use bone conduction headphones, this prevents further sound from going into your ear canal, thus possibly decreasing the tinnitus’s intensity. As a result, you may experience less discomfort and pain.
However, if you don’t have any hearing issues, you can still wear bone conduction headphones for a good listening experience. Especially if you live in a heavy-traffic area, using bone conduction headphones helps you hear the sounds around you in addition to whatever is on the headphones.
Please some of our other interesting articles on Bone Conduction Headphones like “Bone Conduction Headphones Use With Existing Tinnitus And Hearing Loss” and “Hearing Loss Caused By Loud Earbuds, Airpods, And Headphones.”
Can You Use Bone Conduction Headphones As Hearing Aids?
Bone conduction technology has come a long way in aiding people with hearing loss. Nevertheless, no company has come forth with a permanent replacement for the BAHA Implant Hearing Aids.
Bone conduction headphones are a great alternative if you need to use headphones while working out or running errands. With the pace of technology, companies may provide headphones that people can replace hearing aids with and incorporate into their daily lives.
This information does not mean that they can’t assist with your hearing aids or be an addition. However, it would be unwise to rely entirely on your headphones to replace hearing aids for a satisfying auditory experience. If you’re looking for something more minimalist or less clunky, you can speak with an otolaryngologist or an audiologist for their opinion.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
NIHL is not a rare condition, so there is a chance that you may have some level of it and not realize it. According to a new analysis by NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders), 24 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 69 report some symptoms that indicate a noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds. NIHL can result from a one-time exposure to a very loud blast, sound, impulse, or from listening to overly loud sounds over an extended period. NIHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected.
So, if you are or were surrounded by loud noise in the workplace or at home or listen to deafening music, you may start hearing muffled or distorted sounds. You may also start having problems hearing people and may need to turn the volume up for things you could easily listen to before. You may also become more sensitive to various sounds, even if they aren’t loud.
Average Decibel Ratings of Sounds
|Sound or Noise Source||Decibels|
|Volcanic Eruption, Stun Grenades||170 – 180 dB|
|Jet Engine, Firearms, and Firecrackers||150 dB|
|Chain Saw, Rock Concert, Sirens||110 – 120 dB|
|Certain Children’s Toys||110 dB|
|Smart Phone, iPod, MP3 Player, Radio, Stereo, or Television||100 – 115 dB|
|Jackhammer, Snow Machine, or Mobile||100 dB|
|Motorcycles, Lawnmower||90 – 95 dB|
|Hearing Damage||85 dB Continuous long-term exposure|
|Noise From Heavy City Traffic||80 – 90 dB|
|Normal Conversation||60 dB|
|The Humming of a Refrigerator||45 dB|
|Ticking watch||20 dB|
|Normal breathing||10 dB|
How To Help Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss caused by exposure to loud sound at above 85 dBA continuous long-term exposure and above and is preventable.
Teach your family the importance of staying away from too much noise and how to use hearing protection. To reduce the risk of NIHL, adults, and children can do the following in their day to day lives:
- Stay away from, avoid, and limit you or your children’s exposure to extremely loud sounds and noises.
- Move away from the source of loud sounds at work or play whenever possible.
- Wear earplugs or hearing protection devices when involved in loud activities.
- Turn down the volume of all types of headphones (including Bone Conduction), earphones and music systems.
- Turn down the volume of your Television or vehicle’s stereo.
How Bone Conduction Headphones Help NIHL
If you already have Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), carefully wearing bone conduction headphones at lower volume may be one step you could take in helping the condition not increase in severity. In our opinion, and since we have NIHL, considering the damage already done, bone conduction headphones may help reduce further trauma from your ears.
With Bone Conduction Headphones, you no longer have to wear earbuds that go too deep into the canal. And with your ears free, this also allows you to wear earplugs, so any surrounding noise doesn’t disturb your hearing.
Unfortunately, we are regularly exposed to loud sounds in our everyday environment. From lawnmowers to airplanes flying above our heads, there’s so much that can harm our hearing.
And with the statistics on NIHL increasing globally, this has already become an alarming situation. We are slightly ahead of the curve, thanks to bone conduction technology. However, the use of this method is still limited. We are a long way from normalizing bone conduction as the default option for those with hearing issues.
With any type of headphones or earbuds, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss can be caused by the volume that you expose your ears to through these devices and the duration of time you listen to loud sounds through them.
For now, given the increased popularity of these headphones among able listeners, we can hope to see them, with careful use, preventing noise-induced hearing loss as well.
With time, if these headphones improve in quality and replace conventional earbuds, there is a good chance that we may see significant development and more contenders in the game seeking to provide the next generation of life-improving sound devices and hearing aids.
- NIDCD: U.S. adults Aged 20 to 69 Years Show Signs of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- Hopkins Medicine: BAHA – The Implantable Hearing Device
- PubMed: The Global Burden of Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- Medium: Why More People Should Consider Wearing Bone Conduction Headphones
- NIDCD: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- Ear Q: A Complete Guide to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
- NCBI: Improvement of Voice Quality and Prevention of Deafness by a Bone-Conduction Device
- Aston Hearing: Bone Conduction Headphones