Tips for Hearing in Noisy Environments
One of the most common ways that people begin to notice that they’re experiencing hearing loss is difficulty hearing in noisy environments. Whether you’re at a packed restaurant or a sports event, a lot of background noise can be a challenge when you have difficulty hearing.
Hearing devices will help with hearing in noisy environments, but it can still be problematic, particularly when first starting out with hearing instruments. Thankfully, most hearing aids these days come equipped with settings or programs specifically designed to assist in these situations. There are also some basic strategies that you can use to help with hearing in these challenging circumstances.
Considering 28.8 million American adults could benefit from hearing devices, these strategies may be useful to anyone, whether they think they’re experiencing hearing loss or not – hearing people in crowded places can be difficult for anyone!
How non-verbal cues go a long way
Have you ever noticed how much more difficult it can be to understand someone when you’re talking on the phone, compared to when you’re talking in person? One of the reasons for this discrepancy is the use of non-verbal cues.
Using things like body language, facial expressions and hand gestures really goes a long way towards providing context to a conversation. These cues can often act as a back up if you lose the thread of conversation or you’re having trouble hearing in a crowded place.
Lip reading can be a useful skill in a noisy environment
Lip reading may sound like a bit of a daunting task, and you may think that you can get all you need by non-verbal cues. It can actually be a really useful tool though, and people with severe hearing loss often rely upon lip reading as a vital source of communicating. Reports indicate that lip reading can boost confidence and improve communication overall.
If you’re interested in learning how to lip-read, there are classes available to teach you the skill. These classes are normally fairly informal and will focus on the shapes that sounds make on the lips and generally provide other communicative strategies as well.
Choosing a well-lit place
Whether you’re trying out your lip reading skills or just hoping to use some non-verbal cues, it’s essential to choose a location that is well lit. This will also enable you to read written text if necessary.
If you aren’t able to choose the location, you can try and request to be seated in a brighter spot when you arrive. Another useful tip is to try and sit so that the lighting is on the speaker’s face, whether that means looking for overhead lighting or sitting with your back to the window.
Choosing the right time, place and people
It’s pretty common sense, but going out for dinner at 7pm on a Friday is going to be a lot noisier than meeting for coffee at 3pm on a Tuesday. If it’s dinner you’re after though, you may want to take advantage of an early bird special, or meet mid-week.
If you can’t avoid the rush hour, you can always ask the wait staff to turn the volume down. You’re likely not the only one who is having difficulties hearing their companion! If you can choose, you may also want to select somewhere that you’ve been before, or ideally, where you are on familiar terms with the staff. In either case, the staff will be more likely to accommodate you if you’re open and honest about your hearing loss.
Finally, you may also wish to meet in a smaller group. Talking to someone one-on-one is usually a lot easier than trying to follow several conversations in a group of 10 – not to mention that a group of 10 would produce a lot of extra noise themselves!
The technical aspect: Are two hearing aids better than one?
Aside from simple strategies, there are some more technical aspects to hearing aids that can help improve your ability to hear in noisy environments. Using two hearing aids instead of one can improve your ability to hear from both sides and to identify where sounds are coming from.
Hearing devices that are equipped with digital signal processing may also improve your ability to hear in crowded places, as they can distinguish between speech and noise. These hearing aids will automatically turn down the volume when they identify noise, and can therefore adapt in noisy environments.
Finally, some hearing aids also come equipped with a directional microphone option. This allows the user to control where she is picking up sound, either from the surrounds or directly in front. Many hearing aids now come with this function as an automatic feature, so you don’t have to worry about switching it on and off.
Contact your hearing instrument specialist
You may wish to talk to your hearing instrument specialist about how you can adjust your hearing devices to better suit noisy environments. Our team is on hand to provide you with advice, whether through an initial consultation, fitting your hearing aids, or adjusting your hearing devices to better suit your needs.
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