Listening in background noise is one of the hardest auditory tasks for individuals with and without hearing loss. The presence of background noise can “drown out” the speech we want to hear, which may cause us to misunderstand words, miss topic changes, and cause frustration. As hearing aid technology advances, so does the background noise reduction ability of hearing aids. Hearing aids are able to reduce the volume of background noise, however cannot eliminate it completely. Here are some additional tips to help maximize speech understanding while wearing your hearing aids:
- In restaurants, ask to sit in a booth if possible. Booths are typically more closed-off from the majority of background noise than tables and often allow communication partners to be seated closer together
- If a booth is not available, sit with your back to the noise. With our backs to noise, your hearing aids better able to increase the sound of your communication partner’s voice and decrease unwanted signals from behind you. If you sit with your back to the wall, background noise may actually be amplified by the hearing aids as the noise bounces off the wall and travels back over your devices
- In other social situations, avoid having conversations close to walls or in the corner of the room. This helps minimize the chance of background noise reverberating from the walls and further interrupting communication
- Ask your communication partner(s) to indicate topic shifts if possible
If you’re struggling in background noise, make an appointment to see your audiologist. They may be able to adjust your hearing aids for those specific situations and/or recommend additional technology to improve speech understanding!