Understanding Speech in a Noisy World
part of our Sound Advice series
As our world evolves, it also keeps getting busier, noisier and more crowded. For people with hearing loss, this can be especially frustrating - and understanding conversations in a noisy environment has become more difficult than ever.
Why can understanding speech be particularly problematic for people with hearing loss?
The process of hearing is quite complex. Sound is initially captured in the outer ear, but it’s your brain that has to do the hard work of storing, decoding and transforming those sounds into something you can understand and recognize.
Our brain is very good at understanding language, but when you add in extra layers of noise (a crowded restaurant, the hum of the A/C, the birds outside, music or TV in the background), it has to work harder to filter out the irrelevant sounds. If your hearing is already compromised, this can be an exhausting task – often resulting in feeling left out of conversations.
What’s the good news?
Hearing technology has come a long, long way. Rather than just amplifying the wall of noise, today’s best hearing devices amplify sound selectively - so delicate speech cues are preserved. Your brain hears more natural speech, and so you comprehend more of the conversation with less effort.
Oticon Opn™ is one such hearing device that has leveraged technology to help people hear multiple speakers in noisy environments. This client video tells a great story of how having the right hearing device can make a world of difference in your life - at any age.
What’s the takeaway?
If you or a loved one has hearing loss, exploring the possibility of getting hearing aids. There is an adjustment period, but in a way, that’s the best part. Hearing aids with advanced technology can actually "learn" from you - and begin to make changes automatically as needed. This means that over time, each person can help teach their brain to differentiate sounds using the tools the aid provides.
The benefits of learning to adapt to a new hearing device vastly outweigh the challenges in the beginning. Easier communication and understanding can improve relationships with family and friends, increase your confidence, and give you more energy and focus for the things you really care about.