If you struggle to hear in crowded restaurants, subways, theaters and sporting events, it might be more than the busy scene and the noise levels around you. Difficulty hearing in background noise is often one of the first signs of hearing loss and one of the top complaints from people who have hearing loss, and it may signal the need for hearing aids. On the bright side, digital hearing aids now provide unique technology to improve your ability to hear what you want to hear in noisy situations.
Why is it so hard to hear in background noise?
A recent Georgetown University study on bat brains showed that bats were able to quiet certain neurons when they needed to hear important communication of some sort – this is likely the same reason a mother can hear her newborn cry across a crowded room, for instance. However, people with hearing loss are often unable to distinguish other noises and voices – coming from front, back, left and right – when they are in a busy or louder place, which is where today’s digital hearing aids come in.
How can a digital hearing aid help?
Advancements in today’s digital hearing aids include the ability to adapt to a variety of settings and circumstances, including busy restaurants, loud work environments, and even a noisy home setting. In particular, directional microphones in digital hearing aids consist of two microphones that work together to reduce unwanted noise, while still amplifying important conversational sounds. A digital hearing aid uses something called digital signal processing (or DSP) to make this distinction and make your interactions more productive.
Older analog hearing aids simply turned up everything – they could not distinguish speech sounds from noises, like your refrigerator running or a loud fan. Today’s digital hearing aids offer automated noise reduction with a remarkable ability to separate speech (what you want to hear) from background noise (what you don’t want to hear), improving your ability to listen and your overall comfort.
Hearing loss is frustrating enough on its own, but when it starts to impede your ability to enjoy dinner with friends, an outing in the park, an adult education class or your favorite basketball team, it can be disheartening. It helps to plan ahead – to pick a seat with your back to a wall or window or select restaurants that aren’t so loud – but sometimes you need a little help. Digital hearing aids with directional microphones can help you enjoy – and hear – your favorite events with ease.