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My dad has severe hearing loss (hearing aids, etc.) but we made an interesting discovery: bone-conduction headphones bypass the portion of his ear that's damaged. When he first put them on he literally said: "That's better than I've heard anything sound in a decade".

YMMV but it might be something useful to try with your wife.

For what it's worth, this only works if the source of hearing loss is conductive (e.g. eardrum or the ossicles). If your cochlea or any sub-element (e.g. inner hair cells) are damaged, bone conduction will be no different. In fact, the comparison between acoustic and bone-conduction hearing tests is a key element of audiological testing.

True. The classic tuning fork test: hit the fork, hold it up in front of your ear. Can you hear it? Then gently press the end of the (still vibrating) fork against your skull. Can you hear it now? If no/yes, the loss is conductive. If no/no, it's sensorineural.

That's weird. I wonder what the physical reason could be, if (e.g.) it's the eardrum that's acting up on top of the damaged cochlea. (Could there be wax buildup?)

Not weird, but a 'conductive' hearing loss.

In this case the sound that arrives at the eardrum does not conduct through the middle ear bones to the cochlea.

Wax will only cause a slight drop in hearing thresholds.

This can be determined with a standard hearing exam.

Do you have a source for any good bone conduction headphones? I have a damaged eardrum that stops me hearing low frequencies.

Recently tried a demonstration at SF's Exploratorium which involved biting a metal bar, and the result was incredible!

Most bone conduction headphones I find when searching (eg AfterShokz) appear to rest against the bones around the ear, so I'm not sure if they're as effective.

FWIW - it was actually a pair of AfterShokz that my dad tried (as well as a different brand of wireless ones).

Thanks, I'll see if I can try some in person

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