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The Best Hearing Aids for Conductive Hearing Loss

April 17, 2024
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Written by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Soundly Staff

Soundly conducts in-depth research to guide prospective hearing aid wearers. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Hearing aids are a good treatment option for conductive hearing loss
  • Some patients with conductive hearing loss opt for surgery
  • Work with an audiologist if you have a complex ear condition
  • Focus on sound quality, good physical fit, and comfort

As an audiologist, I've supported individuals through their journeys with hearing loss. I've witnessed firsthand the challenges that come with navigating the complex world of hearing aids, particularly for those facing conductive hearing loss. It can be overwhelming to sift through the multitude of options, potential surgery, technologies, and features to find the hearing aid that not only addresses your unique hearing needs but also fits into your lifestyle seamlessly. 

If you're struggling with conductive hearing loss, you've come to the right place. My goal with this guide is to simplify this process for you, drawing upon experience in the field to provide you with comprehensive, understandable, and empathetic advice on selecting the best hearing aid for you.

In this guide, we'll explore the nuances of conductive hearing loss, what to consider when choosing a hearing aid, and the best options currently available. Whether you're an adult managing hearing impairment or a parent seeking solutions for your child, this guide is designed to empower you with knowledge to make informed decisions.

Understanding Conductive Hearing Loss

Before we jump into the hearing aid options, it's essential to grasp what conductive hearing loss entails. People with conductive hearing loss might experience sound as muffled or faint, akin to hearing a conversation from another room. It can sound a bit like closing off your ear or trying to hear with earplugs in your ears. Conductive hearing loss happens when there is an 'obstacle' that prevents sound from getting to the inner ear like it normally would.

Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when there is damage to the delicate sensory cells or to the nerves that situate in the inner ear, conductive hearing loss pertains to the inability of sound to travel effectively through the outer or middle ear. The good news is that speech clarity is typically intact with conductive hearing loss, meaning that conversations sound clear once we apply enough volume. That's where hearing aids come in.

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss can be due to several factors, including ear infections, trauma or injury to the ear, fluid in the middle ear caused by colds or allergies, and issues with the bones in the middle ear. An audiologist and ENT often work together as a team to properly diagnose and treat these types of ear conditions.

It’s critical to consult with your healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. They use appropriate testing methods to pinpoint the root cause of your hearing loss. Once diagnosed, the treatment options could span from medical treatments, involving medications or surgeries, to adopting hearing aids. It's always best to know your options so that you can make an informed decision about which treatment option best suits your situation and personal preferences.

Treatment Options: Surgery 

Surgery is a significant consideration in the treatment of conductive hearing loss for certain individuals. It's not a universal solution, but for some, it offers a pathway to substantial hearing improvement. The suitability of surgery largely depends on the specific cause of the hearing loss and the overall health of the patient. For example, individuals with otosclerosis - a condition where abnormal bone growth in the middle ear impedes sound transmission - may greatly benefit from surgical intervention. Success rates can be high, and for some, it brings about a marked improvement in hearing ability.

To be clear, this type of surgery is specifically done to remove an obstruction that is causing the conductive hearing loss. As in the case of otosclerosis, hearing can improve postoperatively for some patients who are candidates. 

Treatment Options: Bone-anchored Hearing Aids 

However, it's important to note that surgery is not always the preferred or advisable path for every patient. Some individuals may not have a severe enough degree of hearing loss to warrant the risks associated with surgery. Others may opt to avoid surgical procedures due to personal preference, the potential for complications, or the advice of their healthcare team. Additionally, for a wide array of reasons, surgery might not completely resolve hearing issues, leaving patients to still consider the use of hearing aids.

Insurance coverage can also play a critical role in the decision-making process. In some instances, insurance providers are more inclined to cover the costs associated with bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHAs) or cochlear implants (CIs) compared to traditional hearing aids. This financial aspect can influence a patient's decision towards choosing surgical options, especially when these devices offer an appropriate solution to their type of hearing loss.

Each patient's situation is unique, highlighting the importance of a thorough consultation with healthcare professionals. Audiologists and ENT specialists can help guide patients through the intricate process of choosing the best treatment option, weighing the benefits and potential drawbacks of surgery against other interventions like hearing aids. Ultimately, the decision should align with the patient's specific needs, lifestyle, and personal preferences, aiming to improve their quality of life through enhanced hearing capability.

You can read more about BAHAs here.

Treatment Options: Hearing Aids

For some patients, the prospect of undergoing surgery to manage their hearing loss is daunting, or they may be deemed unsuitable candidates for surgical intervention. While certain cases of conductive hearing loss are temporary and may resolve with time or medical treatment, others face a permanent condition where medication or surgery offers no viable solution. 

A prime example of this are patients with chronic ear infections, a condition characterized by fluid or drainage in the middle ear, which can significantly impede the transmission of sound. Surgery may not universally be the preferred or recommended route. For those seeking an alternative, hearing aids represent a promising solution. 

Specifically designed to amplify sound and mitigate the effects of conductive hearing loss, hearing aids can dramatically improve the quality of life for patients with conditions that cause conductive hearing loss, affirming their status as excellent candidates for this non-invasive treatment option.

In addition to ear infections, several medical conditions can lead to permanent conductive hearing loss. Understanding these conditions can play a crucial role in tailoring the management and treatment approach for each individual. The following are some of the medical conditions that commonly result in permanent conductive hearing loss:

  • Chronic Ear Infections: Recurring ear infections can lead to scarring and damage to the ear structures, impacting the ability of sound to travel through the ear efficiently.
  • Eustachian Tube Dysfunction: Persistent dysfunction of the Eustachian tube can cause fluid buildup or negative pressure in the middle ear, hindering sound transmission.
  • Cholesteatoma: An abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum can damage ear structures and lead to hearing loss if not treated.
  • Congenital Malformations: Some individuals are born with abnormalities in the structure of their ear canals or middle ear bones, which can affect hearing ability from birth.
  • Trauma or Injury: Accidents that cause physical damage to the ear or head can lead to changes in the ear's structure, affecting sound conduction.

Being aware of these conditions not only enables individuals to seek prompt medical attention but also helps in making informed decisions about their hearing health management, including the consideration of hearing aids as a viable treatment option.

Selecting the Right Care Model

Selecting the right care model plays a pivotal role in ensuring the best outcomes for individuals with conductive hearing loss. It’s vital to recognize that not all hearing loss scenarios are the same, and the care needs can vary significantly depending on the specific condition and its severity. 

For individuals experiencing chronic ear drainage, those with Pressure Equalizer (PE) tubes in their ears, or those managing other ongoing ear conditions, in-person consultations with an audiologist are essential. These professionals can offer tailored advice, monitor the condition closely, and make adjustments to treatment plans as needed, ensuring that any potential complications are addressed promptly.

On the other hand, individuals who do not currently experience these scenarios (i.e., have no active drainage or infection) might find telehealth services suitable for their needs, especially if they are dealing with mild to moderate conductive hearing loss. The advent of telehealth has significantly expanded access to healthcare, allowing patients to receive expert guidance without the need for physical office visits.

The Right Hearing Aid for Conductive Hearing Loss

Selecting a hearing aid for conductive hearing loss involves considering several factors. The right hearing aid should not only address the specific nature of conductive hearing loss but should also offer comfort, discretion, and compatibility with your daily activities. The good news is that patients with conductive hearing loss have a lot to choose from when it comes to hearing aid options.

What to Look for in a Hearing Aid

A hearing aid for conductive hearing loss should primarily focus on amplifying sounds efficiently while circumventing the issues within the ear's mechanics. Here are some key features to consider:

  • Sound Quality: One of the most crucial aspects to consider when selecting a hearing aid for conductive hearing loss is the sound quality it offers. You'll want a hearing aid that not only amplifies sound to make it louder but also maintains natural sound quality. For individuals with conductive hearing loss, achieving a balance in sound quality is essential. We've found that Oticon is a good option for those who prefer that softer, mellow sound.
  • Comfort and Fit: Ensuring a comfortable and secure fit is crucial, especially for those with ear anomalies due to existing conditions. In this case, you'll want to work with an audiologist for the best fit and retention options.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Bluetooth improves your audio experience, from taking phone calls to listening to your favorite podcast. Most hearing aids now come with Bluetooth connectivity options, allowing patients to connect their devices to Smartphones and other audio sources for improved convenience. Especially if you're an Android user, you'll want to check that your phone is compatible.

The Best Hearing Aids for Conductive Hearing Loss

The market is replete with hearing aids, but which are the best for those with conductive hearing loss? Here are our picks:

  1. Oticon Intent
  2. ReSound NEXIA
  3. Phonak Lumity
  4. Widex Moment Sheer
Hand holding Oticon hearing aids
Oticon Intent
Most Advanced Sensors

Oticon Intent

Oticon Intent

As low as $4,898 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

Oticon is the second most popular hearing aid brand (after Phonak). The brand has built a fanbase around its “open” sound philosophy by using advanced methods to support natural sound. Their newest device, the Oticon Intent, goes a step further, offering open sound quality customized to the user’s intent.

The newly designed devices continuously adapt based on four built-in sensors. Together, the brand calls this MoreSound Intelligence 3.0.

  • Conversation sensors: Search your soundscape for speech sounds.
  • Head sensors: Track your movement to gather information about where you are focused.
  • Body sensors: Track your movement through the room and open the field of sound when you walk
  • Acoustic sensors: Analyze background noises, echo and room dimensions

None of these sensors are brand new to the world of hearing aids, but Oticon claims to be the first brand to use all four together in one connected system. Add in Oticon's already impressive Deep Neural Network and you get what might be the smartest hearing aid in the industry.

  • Overall notes: Oticon Real is an undisputed leader among top-tier hearing aids. If you are attracted to the idea of hearing more of the sounds around you vs. solely focusing on voices, this product is a great choice.
  • Price: The national average price for Oticon Intent is $6,330 per pair. In my price research I found some national providers with prices as low as $2,898/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth LE Audio, Behind The Ear Style
  • What audiologists say: “Oticon is among the best. If you are looking for all-around, top-of-the-line technology, this is an excellent choice.” - Ramsay Poindexter, AuD
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros

Open sound quality that many users prefer

Bluetooth streaming from Android and Apple devices

Offered with both rechargeable and disposable batteries

Cons

Oticon Real hearing aids start at $2,898 and can cost as much as $7,000 with walk in care

Oticon Real hearing aids require a visit to an in person audiologist and are not sold online

Get the full Oticon Intent breakdown 👉
Learn More
Soundly team reviewing NEXIA hearing aids
ReSound NEXIA
First Hearing Aid With Auracast

ReSound NEXIA

ReSound NEXIA

As Low As $3,198 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

ReSound unveiled NEXIA in October 2023. If you’ve read our past reviews, you might know that ReSound is a regular innovator in the hearing category.

The brand was the first to partner with Apple for Bluetooth streaming back in 2013. In 2022, ReSound released an impressive algorithm update with improved beam-forming tech that boasted a 150% improvement in background noise.

ReSound is also the only manufacturer that places a microphone inside the ear to use the natural shape of the pinna to sort out background noise. Those popular features will remain with ReSound NEXIA with some exciting additions.

The first is a visible reduction in size. Impressively, NEXIA maintains a 30-hour battery life while cutting 25% off the overall size—big thumbs up from us.

The second big announcement is that NEXIA has an updated Bluetooth capability that allows Auracast streaming in public places. If you aren’t familiar with Auracast, check out our guide to the topic here.

ReSound is among the best in the industry at separating speech and noise in a background situation. Our lead audiologist recently put NEXIA in a test box and found the hearing aids could consistently provide up to 8-10 dB of background noise reduction.

ReSound NEXIA is on most of our shortlists for the best premium, receiver-in-canal hearing aids on the market.

  • Overall notes: ReSound NEXIA is an all around excellent product with an innovative approach to microphones and one of the smallest form factors in the industry. ReSound NEXIA has strong Bluetooth connection that now boasts Auracast compatibility.
  • Price: The national average price for ReSound NEXIA is $7,410 per pair. In our price research we've found some national providers with prices as low as $3,198/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth with hands-free calling for iPhone and iPad, Small behind the ear style
  • What audiologists say: “ReSound offers elegant design and good (if not elite) sound quality. These hearing aids are high quality and reliable.” - Garrett Thompson, AuD
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros

Great for background noise management

Auracast compatible

Small form factor and an optional 3rd microphone in the ear

Cons

More expensive compared to direct to consumer and OTC options


NEXIA's in-ear M&RIE microphone is a bit larger and can be uncomfortable for some

Get the full ReSound NEXIA breakdown 👉
Learn More
Phonak Audéo Lumity
Best Bluetooth Connection

Phonak Audéo Lumity

Phonak Audéo Lumity

As low as $3,198 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Behind the Ear
Professional Fitting
Bluetooth
Rechargeable

Phonak Lumity hearing aids are new in August 2022 and replace the world's most popular hearing aid (Audéo Paradise).

Lumity get’s top marks from audiologists for stable Bluetooth connection, precise customization and impressive accessories like the Phonak Roger Pen.

Think of this hearing aid as the Mercedes level. High-end, built by the world's largest hearing company and packed with all the tech you could want.

  • Overall Notes: Audéo Lumity is the #1 hearing aid on the market by sales volume. It offers best-in-class Bluetooth streaming, powerful sound algorithms, remote care, and an innovative ear vent. If you can swing the cost for this premium device, chances are that you'll be very happy.
  • Price: The national average price for Phonak Lumity is $6,213 per pair. In my price research I found two larger providers who offer lower prices starting at $3,195/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth and hands-free calling, behind the ear style, motion sensors
  • What audiologists say: “Our patients say that the sound is clear and crisp, while maintaining natural sound quality. Patients also love the unique ability to pair with almost any cell phone and take calls hands-free.” - Garrett Thompson, AuD
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros

Top of the line customization, Bluetooth connection and rechargeable batteries

Enhanced background noise reduction

Highly water-resistant option available for active lifestyles

Cons

Audeo Lumity is a premium product with an average price of $3,198 - $7,000 per pair

Phonak manages sound quality in a way that can lead to a "closed off" feeling compared to Oticon or ReSound's more open sound quality

Get the full Phonak Lumity breakdown 👉
Learn More
Widex Moment Sheer Review
Widex Moment Sheer
Fastest Sound Processing

Widex Moment Sheer

Widex Moment Sheer

$2,798 - $4,598 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

Widex Moment Sheer was introduced in September 2022. The new line of hearing aids is focused less on extra features like fitness tracking or transcription and more on sound quality. Customers who try Widex often stay with the brand for decades. Widex Moment Sheer has the fastest sound processing among all hearing aids in the industry. The reduction in delay gives the brand a leg up when it comes to sound quality and music fidelity.


Widex Moment Sheer is also often considered the leader among receiver-in-canal hearing aids for tinnitus. The brand's SoundRelax program streams fractal sounds into your hearing aids to reduce buzzing and ringing.

  • Overall notes: Widex Moment Sheer goes toe-to-toe with prescription leaders in the category. The perfect candidate for Widex wants care through a local hearing professional, natural external music quality and natural sound.
  • Price: The national average price for Widex Moment Sheer hearing aids is around $7,200 per pair. We've found some national providers with prices as low as $3,198/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth, Behind The Ear Style
Soundly Scorecard
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Pros

Focused on sound quality, delivering clear sound with the lowest delay in the industry.

Includes industry leading tinnitus features.

Widex Moment Sheer hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth streaming capabilities.

One of The Smallest RIC products on the market.

Cons

Only sold through local clinics.

Remote adjustments require an additional accessory.

Widex offers a premium product at a premium price that may be out of budget for some.

Get Widex Moment Sheer Details Here 👉
Learn More
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Final Thoughts

The selection of the right hearing aid or care model can appear daunting amidst the myriad of options available. However, the ultimate goal is to find a solution that enhances your quality of life, allowing you to connect more fully with the world around you. Whether it's engaging in conversations with loved ones, enjoying the sounds of nature, or experiencing your favorite music, the right hearing support can open new doors to experiences that enrich your life. 

It's important to approach this journey with patience and to seek support from professionals who understand your unique needs. Together, there's a path forward to not just better hearing, but to a fuller, more vibrant life. Remember, every step taken towards improving your hearing health is a step towards reclaiming the joys and nuances of the sounds that fill our world.

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