Why is Hearing Harder in a Noisy Place?

It is difficult for most people to hear well in a noisy environment. Restaurants, family gatherings and even our workplaces can be filled with background noise masking the sounds we want to hear. For those with normal hearing, the brain works to filter out the background noise, so we can focus on the conversation. The brain also uses contextual clues to fill in any gaps. This all becomes more difficult with hearing loss.

When you have hearing loss, the brain still tries to do its job, but it is much harder to separate background noises from speech. The brain gets more tired, commonly known as cognitive fatigue, from the strain of trying to sort out sounds. This fatigue also leads to us missing more of those contextual clues that normally help fill in the speech parts we miss. Finally, background noises typically mask finer speech sounds such as high-pitched consonants which are often some of the first sounds that those with hearing loss struggle to hear even in quiet environments.

Hearing aid technology can help you manage these noisy situations so that you can stay focused on the conversation. Hearing aid technology is quite sophisticated and the devices actually analyze the sounds coming in. Many people do not realize that background noise is different than speech. Background noise tends to be steady - think of the steady hum from the tables around you at restaurant - whereas speech is variable. Its frequency changes and so does the amplitude. Upon recognizing the difference, your hearing aids then make sure the speech is amplified while the background noise is not. Many hearing aids also work with your smart phone. You can program in the settings you prefer for noisy environments. Some hearing aid apps even allow for location-based settings, so as you leave your quiet home for a favorite restaurant your hearing aids automatically adjust.

Today’s hearing aid technology is ready to help you tackle noise so you can hear your best in any situation.