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  • Writer's pictureDavid Engelman

Hearing Aid and Mobile Phone Bluetooth Connectivity Issues


Image of a phone with Bluetooth icon, needed for pairing hearing aids to phone.

Modern hearing aids will usually be able to connect to mobile smartphones and other devices via Bluetooth technology.   This technology has become pretty much standard across most hearing aids, except for the smallest hearing aid models.  The benefits of this capability are wide reaching, as you can stream sound from your phone or tablet (such as calls, music, or any other sound that plays from your phone) directly into your hearing aids.  Many people find that this makes their mobile phone calls easier to hear, and much clearer.  All the major hearing aid manufacturers also produce their own apps that you can install onto your phone, which can be used to control your hearing aid volume and change program, amongst other features.  Your hearing aids can also connect to various accessories via Bluetooth that can, for example, stream sound from your television directly into your hearing aids. 

 

For the purposes of this article, I’ll be focusing specifically on using your mobile phone with your hearing aids.  This technology can be a little glitchy at times though, and you may find that your hearing aids no longer seem to be streaming sound from your phone.  Fortunately, this is something you can usually fix yourself, and doesn’t require any audiological know-how.  It does require a bit of basic mobile phone troubleshooting though, and for this reason, I typically only recommend pairing your hearing aids to your phone if you’re reasonably comfortable and confident with doing this.   Let’s look at what can be done to help solve Bluetooth connectivity problems with your hearing aids.

 

a) Ensure Hearing Aids are Compatible with Mobile Phone

 

It is first critical to ensure that your mobile phone is compatible with your hearing aids.  This will depend primarily on the manufacturer of hearing aid that you are using.  Many hearing aid manufacturers produce hearing aids that are “made for iPhone”, which means that if you are an iPhone user with relatively new hearing aids, you should be able to pair your phone to your hearing aids directly, without needing any other devices or accessories.  Some hearing aids are even able to pick up your voice from the hearing aid microphones, meaning you will not need to speak into the phone itself during a call—making phone calls completely handsfree.

   

However, if you are an Android phone user, you may need to use an accessory that will allow your hearing aids to pair to your phone.  Similarly, if your mobile phone is not a smartphone, then you will also need to use an accessory to be able to stream calls from your phone to your hearing aids.  Many newer Android phones, though, support “Android Streaming for Hearing Aids” (ASHA), which is technology that allows you to pair your Android phone directly to your hearing aids, without an additional accessory, although some functionality may be slightly more limited.  This again, only applies if the hearing aids are “made for iPhone”.  There are hearing aid brands that support universal connectivity to both iPhone and Android.  Therefore, if you are an Android user and seamless use of your phone with your hearing aids is important to you, then it is worth discussing this with your audiologist, so that the appropriate hearing aid brand and model can be recommended for you. 

 

b) Ensure Mobile Phone Volume is Turned Up to Desired Level

 

Although it may seem obvious to some, I’ve encountered many hearing aid users who are noticing low streaming volume due to the volume setting on the phone itself being turned down.  The volume that you have set for your phone calls may be different from the volume that is set specifically for streaming.  This is very easily resolved by simply turning up the volume on your phone while you are streaming sound from your hearing aids. 

 

c) Ensure Streaming is Activated to Your Hearing Aids

 

There are times where your hearing aids will have successfully paired with your phone, but streaming functionality has been turned off.  For example, you may want to use your hearing aids with a smartphone app, but do not want your phone calls to be streamed into your hearing aids.  In this case, you may have intentionally switched off streaming to your hearing aids via your phone’s settings—although sometimes this can happen inadvertently as well. 

 

To double check this on an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple devices, go to “settings” → “accessibility” → “hearing devices (which will be labelled with your name)” and then check to see if streaming to both the right and left hearing aids is toggled to the “on” position. 



If you use an Android phone, then you should find your hearing aids listed under “settings” → “connections” → “Bluetooth”, with your hearing aids listed as your name.  You can then select the little cog wheel icon, which will allow you to check that streaming is toggled to the “on” position for both hearing aids.


 

d) Delete/“Forget” Bluetooth Pairing to Hearing Aids

 

If you continue to have trouble with the Bluetooth connectivity from your phone to your hearing aids, then it is usually best to completely delete the pairing of your hearing aids to your phone.  This is called “forgetting” or “unpairing” the device and can be done via your Bluetooth settings in your phone.  This will be found in the same settings described above for iPhone and Android respectively.  See the below screenshots to see how this would look.  After you’ve deleted the Bluetooth pairing, you would then repeat the pairing process from scratch.  This is usually done by restarting your hearing aids (either by opening and closing the battery compartments or placing the hearing aids into and back out of their charger) and then once again going into the same above-described settings, which should then automatically find your hearing aids, and prompt the pairing process.



e) Delete and Reinstall Hearing Aid App

 

If you are specifically having difficulties with the hearing aid app working and/or connecting with your hearing aids, then it is worth deleting the app entirely and reinstalling it.  Similarly, if you’ve had to delete the entire Bluetooth pairing and pair your hearing aids back to your phone again, then I find that it is usually also best to delete the app and reinstall it as well.

 

f) Restart Your Phone

 

It is also a good idea to restart your phone whenever encountering Bluetooth connectivity issues.  I would also recommend doing this as a first step before attempting to pair your hearing aids back to your phone, or reinstalling your hearing aid app, or any other form of troubleshooting.  It is also good practice to regularly restart your phone in general, as this can be helpful for ensuring your Bluetooth connections stay trouble free.

 

Conclusion

 

With the advent of Bluetooth enabled connectivity to hearing aids becoming commonplace, this has also become one of the most common sources of technical issues for hearing aid users.  While it can be frustrating to lose connectivity from your mobile phone to your hearing aids, this can often be easily resolved with some basic troubleshooting.  You can try the above outlined steps, which in most cases, will resolve any problems.  I would note that there can be some variation between different hearing aid brands and different mobile phone models, so it is worth double checking your hearing aid instruction manual, or with your audiologist.

 

If you'd like to learn more about the kind of hearing care we provide for our patients at Finchley Hearing, please explore our website and feel free to get in touch with any questions.


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