Hearing Aids and Background Noise: Overcoming the Battle
Editor's note: An up-to-date version of this article was published February 24, 2014. The new article addresses many updated features with current hearing aids and noisy environments.
If you ever had an untreated hearing loss, you know how frustrating and depressing it is not to be able to hear, communicate or interact with other people.
More than likely, your family and friends kept telling you: “Get some hearing aids already. It will improve not only your hearing but also your overall quality of life.”
They were right, of course. Hearing aids can make a world of difference, but that doesn’t mean that it comes without any glitches. One that nearly all wearers of this device mention time and again is the pesky problem of background noise.
As useful and helpful as hearing aids are – and that fact is undeniable – they do have the potential of one flaw: the inability to completely filter the sounds you want to hear from the ones you don’t.
For example, you may want to focus only on what the person next to you is saying, without being subjected to distracting background noises such as traffic or people shouting or laughing loudly. Unfortunately, hearing aids don’t block these sounds. Normal hearing persons often have the same difficulties in background noise.
That fact was recently brought up in an article published on the website of the Better Hearing Institute by Patricia B. Kricos, PhD, Professor of Audiology and Director of the Center for Gerontological Studies at the University of Florida.
“Despite tremendous advances in hearing aid technology, even with the latest digital noise reduction circuitry, background noise continues to be a problem,” Dr. Kricos writes.
She defines problematic background noise as “any noise that interferes with your ability to hear, understand, and/or pay attention to the signal that you want to hear.”
These undesirable noises, Dr. Kricos writes, “can particularly bother new hearing aid users during the first few weeks because for years they may not have heard everyday noises such as screeching brakes, clattering dishes, and rustling papers. Most long-time hearing aid users will tell you that the sudden ability to hear annoying noises is challenging, but the ability to tolerate these noises does get better with time.”
Background noise – here today, gone tomorrow
If your sense of hearing is getting overloaded and overwhelmed with background noise, you’ll be happy to know that there are some steps you can take to lessen the impact of the pesky disturbance.
Dr. Kricos details each measure in the article, but here is an overview of her helpful tips:
Hear better in social settings
In her article, Dr. Kricos also suggests some practical tips on overcoming the challenges of background noise in public places. Among them: