Body Hearing Aids: A Comprehensive Guide to Regaining Your Hearing

Body hearing aids offer a powerful solution for people with severe hearing loss. Unlike traditional hearing aids, they house amplification components in a separate body unit worn on the waist or chest. This guide explores everything about body hearing aids: how they work, different types, advantages and disadvantages, the selection process, and living with them. Discover if body hearing aids can empower your hearing journey and reconnect you with the world of sound.

Body Hearing Aids

Body hearing aids are a type of hearing amplification system designed for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss. Unlike conventional hearing aids that fit within or behind the ear, body aids house the amplification components in a separate unit worn on the body, typically at the waist or chest. A wire connects the body unit to a receiver placed near the ear canal.

Image of Body Hearing Aid

How Body Hearing Aids Work

Body hearing aids function similarly to other hearing aids but with a few key differences. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Sound Reception: The microphone on the body unit picks up surrounding sounds.
  2. Signal Processing: The sounds are transmitted as electrical signals to the body unit, where they are amplified and adjusted based on the wearer’s specific hearing loss and listening environment.
  3. Sound Delivery: The amplified signals travel through a thin wire to a receiver placed behind or in the ear canal. The receiver converts the signals back into sound waves, which are then delivered to the inner ear.

Advantages of Body Hearing Aids

  • Increased Power: Body aids offer greater power for amplifying sound compared to traditional hearing aids. This is beneficial for individuals with significant hearing loss who require substantial amplification.
  • Improved Sound Quality: The larger size of the body unit allows for more sophisticated sound processing technology, potentially leading to clearer and more natural-sounding amplification.
  • Fewer Feedback Issues: Feedback, a whistling sound that can occur in hearing aids, is less common with body aids due to the distance between the microphone and the receiver.
  • Durability: Body aids tend to be more robust than behind-the-ear or in-ear models, making them a suitable choice for active individuals or those in environments with a higher risk of damage.

Disadvantages of Body Hearing Aids

  • Visibility: The body unit and connecting wire may be more noticeable compared to other hearing aid styles.
  • Comfort: Wearing a separate unit on the body can feel cumbersome or inconvenient for some users.
  • Maintenance: The additional components of body aids may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance.
  • Cost: Body aids are generally more expensive than traditional hearing aids due to their increased complexity.

Body hearing aids can be a valuable option for people with severe hearing loss seeking powerful amplification and improved sound quality. However, the potential drawbacks like visibility and comfort should be considered when making a decision. Consulting with a hearing healthcare professional is crucial to determine if a body hearing aid is the most suitable solution for your specific needs.

Types of Body Hearing Aids

Body hearing aids come in two main categories: those that transmit amplified sound waves through the air and those that use bone conduction.

Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

Bone conduction hearing aids (BCHAs) work by bypassing the outer and middle ear and transmitting sound vibrations directly to the inner ear through the bones of the skull. The body unit of a BC hearing aid contains a vibrator that rests against the mastoid bone behind the ear. When sound is amplified, the vibrator creates corresponding vibrations that travel through the skull to the cochlea in the inner ear, stimulating auditory perception.

Image of Bone Conduction Hearing Aid

Bone conduction hearing aids are particularly beneficial for individuals with conductive or mixed hearing loss, where the outer or middle ear is damaged but the inner ear functions normally. They can also be a suitable option for people who cannot wear traditional hearing aids due to ear canal blockages or chronic infections.

Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Devices

Transcutaneous bone conduction devices (TCBCDs) are a specialized type of bone conduction hearing aid. Similar to a BC hearing aid, a TCBCD utilizes a body unit to process sound. However, instead of a vibrator placed on the mastoid bone, a TCBCD employs a surgically implanted titanium screw that directly couples with the bones of the skull. The screw vibrates in response to amplified sound signals, transmitting them to the inner ear.

Image of Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Device

TCBCDs offer several advantages over traditional BCHAs. Because the implant is securely affixed to the skull, it provides a more stable and consistent sound transmission. Additionally, TCBCDs may offer improved sound quality and reduced sound leakage compared to BCHAs that rest on the skin.

Conventional vs. Implantable Models

The choice between a conventional body hearing aid and a TCBCD depends on several factors. Here’s a brief comparison:

Feature Conventional Body Hearing Aid Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Device
Implantation No Yes (surgical procedure required)
Comfort May feel cumbersome for some users Generally comfortable and discreet
Sound Quality Good Potentially superior
Maintenance Requires regular cleaning and care Minimal maintenance after implantation

Conventional body aids are a non-invasive solution, making them suitable for individuals who are not comfortable with surgery or who may only require temporary hearing amplification. TCBCDs offer a more permanent and discreet option with potentially improved sound quality. However, they require a surgical procedure and may not be covered by insurance.

Components and Features of Body Hearing Aids

Body hearing aids, while distinct from their in-the-ear or behind-the-ear counterparts, share some core components but have unique features as well. Let’s delve into the specifics:

Body Hearing Aids
Body Hearing Aids

Main Components of Body Hearing Aids

  • Body Unit: This is the main housing containing the amplifier, battery, and processing circuitry. It’s typically worn on the waist or chest.
  • Microphone: Picks up surrounding sounds and converts them into electrical signals.
  • Volume Control: Allows for manual adjustment of the overall listening volume.
  • Program Button (Optional): Enables switching between pre-programmed settings optimized for different listening environments (e.g., quiet settings, noisy environments).
  • Telecoil: A small coil that can pick up signals from loop systems commonly found in public venues, improving sound quality and reducing background noise.
  • Receiver: Converts the amplified electrical signals back into sound waves. Depending on the type of body aid, the receiver may be placed behind the ear (BTE) or in the ear canal (in-the-canal style).
  • Connecting Wire: A thin, flexible cable transmits amplified signals from the body unit to the receiver.

Different Designs and Styles

Body hearing aids come in a limited range of styles compared to traditional hearing aids. However, there are still some options to consider:

  • Over-the-Ear (OTE): The receiver sits behind the ear, connected to the body unit by a thin wire. This is the most common style for body aids.
  • In-the-Canal (ITC): A smaller receiver is placed discreetly within the ear canal. This style may not be suitable for all users with severe hearing loss due to limited space for powerful amplification components.

Connectivity Options

Modern body hearing aids are increasingly incorporating wireless connectivity features:

  • Bluetooth: Allows for direct streaming of audio from smartphones, tablets, and other compatible devices. This eliminates the need for separate cables and improves accessibility for phone calls and multimedia content.
  • Wireless Accessories: Somebody’s aids can connect to remote microphones placed in a conversation partner’s environment, improving speech clarity in noisy situations.


Selection and Fitting Process for Body Hearing Aids

Choosing the right body hearing aid requires a collaborative effort between you and a qualified hearing healthcare professional, typically an audiologist or hearing specialist. Here’s a breakdown of the typical process:

1. Evaluation by Audiologist or Hearing Specialist

  • Comprehensive Hearing Assessment: This involves a series of tests to evaluate your hearing loss type, severity, and overall ear health.
  • Discussion of Needs and Lifestyle: The audiologist will discuss your listening environments, daily activities, and expectations from a hearing aid.
  • Medical History Review: Your medical history will be reviewed to identify any potential contraindications for using a body hearing aid.

2. Choosing the Right Device for Your Needs

Based on the evaluation results and your preferences, the audiologist will recommend a specific type of body hearing aid. Factors considered include:

  • Severity of Hearing Loss: Body aids are generally suited for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss where traditional hearing aids may not provide sufficient amplification.
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Conductive, mixed, or severe sensorineural hearing loss may benefit from bone conduction body aids.
  • Lifestyle and Preferences: Your level of activity, dexterity, and cosmetic considerations will influence the style and features chosen (e.g., OTE vs. ITC, Bluetooth connectivity).

3. Customization and Adjustment

Once a body hearing aid is selected, the fitting process begins:

  • Molding (For OTE Styles): If you’re opting for an over-the-ear style, an earmold will be created to ensure a comfortable and secure fit behind your ear.
  • Programming: The audiologist will program the hearing aid based on your audiogram and preferences. This may involve adjusting settings like volume, noise reduction, and directional microphones.
  • Verification and Validation: Special equipment is used to measure the real-ear response and ensure the programmed settings effectively amplify sound in your specific ear canal.
  • Trial Period: You’ll likely be given a trial period to wear the body hearing aid and assess its effectiveness in your daily life. Fine-tuning adjustments can be made during this time.

Aftercare: Regular follow-up appointments with your audiologist are crucial to ensure the continued optimal performance of your body hearing aid. They can also provide cleaning and maintenance guidance.


Maintenance and Care of Body Hearing Aids

Proper care and maintenance are essential for ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your body hearing aid. Here are some key practices to follow:

Cleaning Instructions

  • Body Unit: Regularly wipe down the body unit with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents, as they can damage the delicate electronics.
  • Microphone: Use a soft brush to gently remove any earwax or debris from the microphone opening. Do not insert anything sharp or pointed into the microphone.
  • Receiver and Earmold (For OTE Styles): These components require more frequent cleaning. Your audiologist will provide specific instructions based on the type of receiver and earmold you have. Generally, they can be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe or solution recommended by your audiologist.

Battery Management

  • Battery Type: Most body hearing aids use standard batteries like size 13 or AA.
  • Battery Life: Battery life can vary depending on usage, streaming activity, and amplification settings. It’s wise to keep spare batteries on hand and replace them when you notice a decline in sound quality or decreased volume.
  • Battery Compartment: Keep the battery compartment clean and dry to prevent corrosion.
  • Turning Off When Not In Use: When you’re not wearing your body hearing aid, turn it off to conserve battery life.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Decreased Sound Quality: This could be due to low batteries, dirty components, or incorrect programming. Check the batteries first, then clean the microphone and receiver. If the issue persists, consult your audiologist.
  • Feedback or Whistling: This can occur if the receiver is not properly inserted or seated in the ear canal (for OTE styles). Adjust the position or consult your audiologist for further troubleshooting.
  • Body Unit Not Functioning: Ensure the batteries are inserted correctly and fully charged. If the body unit remains unresponsive, contact your audiologist.

By following these simple maintenance and care practices, you can keep your body hearing aid functioning optimally and ensure a continued positive impact on your hearing experience. Remember, your audiologist is a valuable resource for any questions or concerns you may have regarding the care and maintenance of your body hearing aid.


Living with a Body Hearing Aid

Making the transition to a body hearing aid can be an enriching experience, reconnecting you with the world of sound. Here are some tips to help you adjust and integrate your body hearing aid seamlessly into your daily life:

Adjusting to Wear

  • Start Slowly: If you’re new to hearing aids, begin by wearing them for short periods in quiet environments and gradually increase the wearing time as you become accustomed to the amplified sounds.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: The more you wear your body hearing aid, the more comfortable and natural it will feel.
  • Adjusting Expectations: It takes time to retrain your brain to process amplified sounds. Be patient and allow yourself time to adjust to the new soundscape.

Everyday Activities and Considerations

  • Background Noise: Body hearing aids can be very effective in amplifying sounds, but they can also amplify background noise. Experiment with different program settings (if available) to find the optimal balance for various listening environments.
  • Phone Calls: If your body hearing aid has Bluetooth connectivity, you can stream phone calls directly to your ears for improved clarity. Otherwise, using the telecoil setting with compatible phone systems can also enhance sound quality during calls.
  • Streaming Audio: Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks directly to your body hearing aid, providing a richer listening experience.

Safety Precautions

  • Water Resistance: While some body hearing aids may have water-resistant features, it’s generally best to avoid wearing them in water or excessively humid environments.
  • Dropping the Body Unit: The body unit can be heavier than traditional hearing aids. Be mindful when taking it on and off to avoid accidental drops.
  • Electromagnetic Interference: Body hearing aids may be susceptible to interference from certain electronic devices. If you experience static or buzzing sounds, move away from the source of the interference.

Additional Tips

  • Join a Support Group: Connecting with others who use body hearing aids can provide valuable advice and shared experiences.
  • Be Patient and Advocate for Yourself: Don’t hesitate to communicate any concerns or questions to your audiologist. They can help you optimize your hearing aid settings and ensure you get the most out of your device.

Living with a body hearing aid can be a journey of rediscovering and appreciating sounds you may have missed. By following these tips and working collaboratively with your audiologist, you can maximize the benefits of your hearing aid and enhance your overall quality of life.


Resources and Support for Body Hearing Aids

Living with hearing loss can be isolating, but there are many resources available to help you connect with others and get the most out of your body hearing aids. Here’s a breakdown of some valuable resources:

Support Groups and Online Communities

  • Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA): HLAA offers local chapters across the US that provide support groups and educational resources for people with hearing loss.
  • American Academy of Audiology (AAA): While not a direct support group, the AAA website has a directory of audiologists who can provide guidance and support for using body hearing aids.
  • Online Forums: Several online forums and communities cater to individuals with hearing loss. These platforms can be a great way to connect with others who use body hearing aids and share your experiences.

Additional Reading and References

  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): The NIDCD website provides a wealth of information on hearing loss, including causes, types, and treatment options like body hearing aids.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): ASHA’s website offers resources on hearing loss, including information on different hearing aid technologies.
  • Body Hearing Aid Manufacturers’ Websites: Most manufacturers of body hearing aids have websites with detailed information about their products, including user manuals, troubleshooting guides, and customer support contacts.

Manufacturer and Professional Contacts

  • Hearing Aid Manufacturers: You can find contact information for specific hearing aid manufacturers on their websites. Look for a “Contact Us” or “Customer Support” section.
  • Audiologists: An audiologist is a qualified healthcare professional who can diagnose hearing loss, recommend appropriate treatment options like body hearing aids, and program and fit your device for optimal performance. You can find audiologists in your area through the directories of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Remember, consulting with a hearing healthcare professional is crucial for getting the most out of your body hearing aid. They can answer your questions, address any concerns, and ensure the device is properly programmed and functioning effectively to meet your specific needs.

Conclusion: Body Hearing Aids – Empowering Your Hearing Journey

Body hearing aids offer a powerful solution for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss. While they may differ in style and require some adjustment compared to traditional hearing aids, the potential benefits of improved sound quality, greater amplification, and reduced feedback can significantly enhance your hearing experience.


  • Consulting with a qualified audiologist is essential to determine if a body hearing aid is the most suitable option for your specific hearing needs.
  • The selection and fitting process involves collaboration between you and your audiologist to ensure a customized solution that meets your preferences.
  • With proper care and maintenance, your body hearing aid can provide lasting benefits, reconnecting you with the world of sound.

Encouragement for Those Considering or Using Body Hearing Aids:

  • Embrace the Possibilities: Body hearing aids can open doors to clearer communication, richer listening experiences, and improved social engagement.
  • Be Patient: Adjusting to a hearing aid takes time. Be patient with yourself as you learn to navigate the new soundscape.
  • Seek Support: There are numerous resources available, including support groups and online communities, to connect with others who understand the challenges and rewards of living with hearing loss.

If you’re considering a body hearing aid, take the first step by scheduling a consultation with a hearing healthcare professional. They can guide you through the process and help you explore the possibilities of rediscovering the world of sound.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Body Hearing Aids

Addressing Common Concerns

  • Are body hearing aids more noticeable than traditional hearing aids?

Yes, body hearing aids are generally more visible than behind-the-ear or in-ear models due to the separate body unit and connecting wire. However, clothing choices can help conceal the body unit.

  • Are body hearing aids uncomfortable to wear?

The body unit can feel cumbersome for some users, especially during initial use. However, most people adjust to the sensation over time. Lighter and more ergonomic designs are becoming increasingly available.

  • What are the advantages of body hearing aids over traditional hearing aids?

Body hearing aids offer greater power for amplifying sound, potentially improved sound quality due to larger processing components and less frequent feedback issues.

  • Are body hearing aids more expensive than traditional hearing aids?

Generally, yes. The increased complexity of body hearing aids translates to a higher cost compared to traditional models.

  • Who is a good candidate for a body hearing aid?

Individuals with severe to profound hearing loss who require significant amplification may benefit from body hearing aids. Additionally, those with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or those who cannot wear traditional hearing aids due to ear canal blockages, may be suitable candidates.

Clarifying Technical Terms

  • Microphone: Converts sound waves into electrical signals.
  • Amplification: The process of increasing the volume of sound signals.
  • Telecoil: A miniature coil that picks up signals from loop systems, improving sound quality in public venues.
  • Receiver: Converts amplified electrical signals back into sound waves.
  • dB (decibel): The unit of measurement for sound level or intensity.
  • Hz (Hertz): The unit of measurement for sound frequency (pitch).
  • Directional microphone: A microphone that focuses on sounds coming from a specific direction, improving speech clarity in noisy environments.
  • Battery life: The amount of time a hearing aid can function on a single battery charge.
  • Bluetooth: A wireless technology that allows for streaming audio from compatible devices directly to your hearing aid.

Read More:

How to pair my hearing aid with a mobile phone

Understanding Bose Hearing Aids: Options and Alternatives

Hearing Aid Care: Essential Tips for Long-Lasting Performance

1 thought on “Body Hearing Aids: A Comprehensive Guide to Regaining Your Hearing”

Leave a comment