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Even the smallest devices like hearing aids can emit EMF. If you are wondering how safe your hearing device is, or is it safe to use a wireless hearing aid, this article is for you.
First, do hearing aids emit EMF radiation? Yes, hearing aids emit EMF radiations. In fact, due to their proximity to the brain, the radiation from wireless hearing devices can actually pose a great danger to human health.
Hearing aids are a necessity for people with hearing disparities. The advanced models of hearing aids use wireless technology. wireless hearing devices offer better communication and enhanced connectivity, but they also expose users to a lot of radiations.
As I set to research for the safety of hearing aids, I found a lot of information that I will share with you in this article.
How does a Hearing Aid Work?
A hearing aid is a medical device that helps people with hearing loss or hearing disparities to hear better. Let me first explain a little about how hearing aids work.
The traditional or analog hearing aid has a microphone that gathers sound, an amplifier that makes it loud, and a receiver that transmits the sound to the ear canal.
However, today, wireless, digital hearing aids are more popular because of their advanced features. In a digital device, the microphone transmits the sound it picks to a chip. The chip adjusts the sound and the volume to provide an improved hearing experience.
Digital hearing aids use radiofrequency and microwave EMF radiation to operate. They are wireless and provide a better hearing and connectivity experience.
Hearing Aids and EMF Radiation
For many years, people have worried about EMF radiation and its effects on human health. With the advance in technology, we are always surrounded by radiation from electric and magnetic fields. Everything from our cell phones to the solar panels in our house exposes us to harmful radiations.
Digital wireless hearing devices are very helpful for people with hearing problems. They allow people with hearing issues to:
- Communicate better with the people around them
- Connect with other devices like smartphones and tablets
- Receive calls or listen to music without needing headphones
- Operate their hearing devices remotely
This incorporation of wireless technology and hearing devices has provided better connectivity and enhanced hearing experience. However, many people are concerned about their safety. There is a lot of speculation about the impact of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.
Wireless hearing aids use both:
- Short-range transmission. (This ranges from 3 to 11 Megahertz.)
- Long-range transmission. ( This operates at 2.4 Gigahertz )
But the real problem arises because of their proximity to the brain. There are a lot of body fluids like blood, intracellular fluids and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid). These fluid act as crystals. Harmful frequencies from EMF can affect these crystals and cause disruptions in the body.
This can disrupt cells, tissues, and organs and even affect their functions.
Understanding the Impact of EMF Radiations
An EMF is an invisible area of energy that constitutes both electric and magnetic fields.
There are three factors that determine the impact of EMF radiations:
- The intensity of the radiations
- Duration of exposure
- Proximity to the source emitting EMF radiations
Not all EMF radiations are harmful. The effect of EMF radiations on human body depends on the type of radiations and their frequency and wavelength.
You may have heard of two common types of radiations:
These are mid to high-frequency radiations and can have an adverse impact on the human body. They can cause cellular and DNA damage. They include:
- Ultraviolet (UV)
These include low to mid-frequency radiations. They are considered less harmless as compared to ionizing radiation. They include:
- ELF or Extremely Low Frequency
- RF or Radio Frequency
- Visual Light
Wireless devices including hearing aids use non-ionizing radiations. They are benign and known to create a thermal effect.
Safety of Wireless Hearing Aids
Bluetooth hearing aids operate at a much greater frequency (2.4 GHz). This is at the far side of the spectrum and exposes users to more high frequencies.
Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) are a better parameter to determine if a wireless device is safe or not. As hearing devices are very close to the human body and used for longer durations of time, therefore, SAR is as important as measuring EMF levels.
Regulations for Manufacturers of Hearing Aids
Keeping public safety in mind, the government has set some regulations that manufacturers have to follow. For a hearing aid to be safe, it should operate at low energy levels and have a low SAR value.
In USA hearing aids are classified as Class I and wireless hearing aids are classified as Class II. This means that wireless hearing devices should follow the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The regulations determine the safe ranges of frequency bands, broadcast strengths, and SAR.
Hearing aids that are manufactured according to the regulations radiate very low levels of energy. Moreover, most wireless hearing aids operate between 0.001-0.02 W/kg. This is far below the allowed levels of SAR by the Government bodies i.e. 1.6-2.0 W/kg.
For ensuring public safety, Telecommunications Certification Body (TCB) Laboratory measures a hearing device and certifies if it works in compliance with the regulations.
How Safe are Hearing Aids
Hearing aids can expose their users to EMF radiations. As they are literally inside our ears and so close to our brain, we must be careful when using wireless hearing aids.
Wireless hearing aids use both radiofrequency and microwave electromagnetic radiations. Luckily, there are strict rules by the FDA and FCC. In order to certify a product, manufacturers have to follow the regulations when designing hearing devices.
Therefore, when purchasing a wireless hearing aid make sure to check it comes from a certified brand. Also, look at the electromagnetic energy levels and the SAR values of the hearing device.
Another thing I will stress here is that hearing aids are medical devices, there is a lot of literature available about them. Try to learn a little about your device before buying it. Read the manual and ask your doctor for helpful tips to use your hearing aid safely.
Hearing aids operate with very low energy levels and SAR values. A lot of popular brands are producing wireless hearing aids with much less EMF radiations than approved by the regulations of Government bodies.
The low energy level and low SAR values make the wireless hearing aids safe to use. Their EMF radiation levels are even less than a regular smartphone. Therefore, the hearing aids are safe to use.
However, as you may have read in most of my articles, the impact of EMF radiations depends more on the duration of exposure and their proximity to our bodies. Therefore, it is important to be careful when using hearing aids.
No research proves that hearing aids emit EMF radiations at levels that can harm the human brain. But due to their proximity to the brain, it is imperial to be careful when using the Bluetooth wireless hearing aids.
Health Concerns of Using Hearing Aids
Since hearing devices are made with a great focus on safety, the EMF values aren’t a lot to harm the human body. However, people who are sensitive to electromagnetic field radiations can be vulnerable even to the slightest energy levels around them.
Moreover, even with the mild energy levels, the continuous use of hearing aids and their continued proximity to sensitive brain cells can result in a lot of problems. The symptoms may be slightest and easy to miss.
I, therefore, recommend you to be careful when using hearing aids. And, whenever you can, take some time off and keep the hearing aid away.
There is a lot of debate about EMF hypersensitivity. The self-reported rates of EMF hypersensitivity are 3% in California and 4% in the UK. The subject is still under research. But the hypersensitivity because of electromagnetic field radiations is considered as an environmental sensitivity and a disability.
The Scientific Proof
A study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (2016), reported that male rats exposed to radiofrequency EMF radiations since birth developed a rare type of brain cancer called a malignant glioma. It also found that both, male and female rats developed heart cancers with continuous exposure to radiofrequency EMF.
For people with EMF hypersensitivity, it is more important to avoid continuous use of hearing aids and other wireless devices. This is the most obvious and simple solution to the problem. Avoid using your device whenever possible. you can also switch to a basic hearing aid that is not wireless. It won’t have a wire attached to it. the only difference is that it will not connect to smartphones or tablets.
EMF Radiations from Hearing Aids and Brain Cancer
There is a lot of debate going on the relation between EMF radiations from hearing aids and brain cancer. However, according to experts in Audiology, hearing aids do not use enough EMF radiations to cause a big health concern.
There is no evidence of any connection between hearing aids and brain cancer.
As per the FDA and FCC regulations, the hearing aids are manufactured with low SAR values. Today, most companies are making hearing aids that have a much lesser SAR value than the recommended value 1.6-2.0 W/kg.
Moreover, the advanced models of wireless hearing aids use a low-power Bluetooth chip. Therefore, a wireless hearing device with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is much safer to use than any other Bluetooth device. This makes them safer than even Bluetooth headphones or smartphones.
Increased Risk of Various Health Concerns
- EMF Radiations can have a direct effect on Melatonin levels that can disrupt sleep.
- They can cause mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
- In people with hearing issues, some reports associated problems like headaches, migraines, tinnitus to EMF radiations.
- Continuous exposure may also cause:
- Loss of appetite
- Heart problems
- Abnormal cell growth
- DNA damage
- Increased risk of leukemia
- Fertility issues
How to Use Wireless Hearing Aids Safely?
Compared to other devices and appliances that emit harmful radiations including EMF radiations, hearing aids are medical devices. They are necessities that are important for people with hearing issues to have a normal hearing experience.
Therefore, you cannot talk about avoiding them totally. However, people with EMF hypersensitivity can use a few tips to avoid any health issues caused by EMF.
1. Choosing A Safe Hearing Aid
Every country has a set of regulations for medical devices. It is important to buy a device that your doctor recommends. Ask your doctor about the safety of the hearing aid and do your own research.
While purchasing a hearing aid make sure to choose one that is certified.
2. Limit Use
Of course, you need your hearing aid for communication. But dedicate aa few hours every day that you can spend resting or doing some quiet activity that doesn’t require wearing a hearing aid.
3. Replace with Analogue Hearing Aid
If you are highly sensitive and believe that the EMF radiation from your hearing aid is causing problems, you can switch to an analog hearing aid.
An analog hearing aid will not provide a great hearing experience as a digital wireless hearing aid. However, it will be a great way to avoid harmful radiation.
It is safe to believe that Bluetooth wireless hearing devices emit much lesser EMF radiations than most devices. The EMF radiations they do emit are minimal and not enough to cause any cellular or brain damage. However, given the fact that they have extreme proximity to the most sensitive human organ, brain, it is important to be a little careful when using hearing aids.