Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

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Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

Tips for Better Hearing in Noise
Peter Lucier, HIS

Even experienced hearing aid users can struggle adjusting the strain that background noise can have on their hearing capabilities. Background noise can make it difficult for people to distinguish amongst complex sounds. This can especially be the case when you are in scenarios where there is a lot of hustle and bustle, such as restaurants, on public transportation, at the grocery store, or even in your own home with the television playing.

For people experiencing hearing loss, these complex sound environments can make it difficult to create hierarchies of important sounds. This means that it may be difficult to distinguish between a face-to-face conversation and a conversation that three people over are having, or to identify the specific speech stylings of the person you are conversing with and the music that is playing overhead. A common refrain from people with hearing loss in these environments is something like “I can hear, but it is difficult to understand what is specifically being said.”


Challenges with Background Noise

No matter how advanced a hearing aid technology is, or how familiar a hearing aid user is with their device, background can significantly impede one’s ability to distinguish important sounds.  This can lead to sometimes dangerous outcomes. When people with hearing loss are less able to distinguish background noise, they are less attuned to their surroundings. When all noise is processed with the same level of importance, it can be difficult for people to interpret when there are changes in their environment. This noise can include sounds that signal dangerous events, such as tires squealing, dishes breaking, or even something as simple as someone shouting. When you are unable to hear these sounds, you are unable to understand the warning signs that would otherwise keep you safe from bodily harm.


Use Binaural Hearing Aids

One of the easiest methods of reducing noise while using a hearing aid is to simply wear two hearing aids. Wearing more than one device will allow your brain to process sounds from multiple directions and multiple angles. The boosted hearing levels from both sides of your body will improve your brain’s ability to distinguish front and background noises in the process.


Style Matters

Apart from this, however, you can make some changes in the style of hearing aid you use. There have been many incredible advances in hearing aids over the last twenty years. Thanks to the developments in hearing aid technologies there are some ways to limit noise interference for hearing aid users. The improvements in digital hearing aids are a bright spot for hearing aid users who are looking for relief from pesky and frustrating background noise.

Before pursuing your hearing aid options, it might be a good idea to visit us at Hearing Specialists of the Central Coast for an updated hearing test. With your dedicated hearing health professional, you will be able to determine some of the best options for your particular hearing needs.


Digital Signal Processing

Contemporary and advanced hearing aids operate with digital signal processing (DSP) that adapts to user’s individual and situational hearing needs. These DSP devices include directional microphone systems: single or dual microphones that are able to capture and process sounds coming from the front of the device differently than those from the back. They also use adaptive feedback technologies, where the device itself is capable of managing (and sometimes avoiding altogether) those annoying high-pitched whistles that traditional hearing aids can be susceptible to. Lastly, DSP hearing aid devices frequently come with noise reduction capabilities. They preserve signals that can fluctuate such as speech, where the patterns of high and low frequency as well as loud and soft sounds can change. At the same time, they are able to reduce sounds and noise in the background that are more or less steady.


Training Programs to Improve Listening

New developments in auditory training also suggest that people might be able to train themselves to better distinguish background noise. Different free and paid programs typically use games and memorization activities to sharpen cognitive and auditory skills. A 2011 study in the journal Cerebral Cortex found that one of these programs, the Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE) program, showed “significant improvements in speech-in-noise” ability.

There are lots of great advancements in hearing aid technologies that improve people’s abilities to hear in the midst of bustling background noise. Careful attention to your surroundings mixed with improve technologies will undoubtedly ensure a happier, healthier hearing environment for hearing aid users worldwide.

To learn more, contact us at the Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast.

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