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Apple AirPods the cheaper alternative to hearing aids?

Researchers from Taiwan have found that a pair of Apple headphones could help some people hear almost as well as hearing aids.

In a study published Tuesday in the journal iScience, the authors found that a sound boost feature on AirPods Pro helped adults with mild to moderate hearing loss hear speech almost as well as two hearing aids.

The study compared the AirPods Pro and AirPods 2 with two hearing aids – “premium” and “basic” – from other companies, looking at electro-acoustic characteristics and comparing performance when helped with each aid device. auditory.

AirPods Pro with a smartphone met the majority of Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP) standards – PSAPs are portable electronic devices intended for people with normal hearing.

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Comparatively, the AirPods 2 only met two out of five criteria.

A pair of Apple AirPods Pro wireless headphones
(Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The study indicated that no significant difference was determined in speech perception between AirPods Pro and hearing aids in quiet environments, but not with the presence of background noise.

While AirPods Pro were unresponsive Food and Drug Administration standards for hearing aidsthey amplified sound as well as less advanced devices.

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Researchers in Taiwan have found that a pair of Apple headphones could help some people hear almost as well as hearing aids.

Researchers in Taiwan have found that a pair of Apple headphones could help some people hear almost as well as hearing aids.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

AirPods Pro, they wrote, could have the potential to be a hearing aid device for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Nevertheless, the authors asserted that more research is needed to investigate the safety and feasibility of using headphones that come with other smartphones like these PSAPs, noting that previous investigations have led to similar conclusions.

Limitations of the study include its small sample size, the fact that people with severe sensorineural hearing loss and other types were excluded, additional information about the subjects was not collected, there could be observer bias, that the first-fit setting was used instead of real-ear measurement, and that the PSAPs studied were created by the same manufacturer and may not be applicable to other products.

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro
(Nic Coury/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

PSAPs are cheaper over-the-counter products that can be installed by users.

In the United States, the average outlay for a single hearing aid is over $2,000, while a pair of AirPods Pro costs around $249.

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“There is also a social stigma associated with hearing aids,” Yen-Fu Cheng, corresponding author of the study and an otolaryngologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said in a statement. “Many patients are hesitant to wear them because they don’t want to look old, so we started exploring if there were more accessible alternatives.”

Millions of Americans have hearing loss, which is the third most common chronic health condition. The prevalence of hearing loss in America is expected to double by 2060.

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