When you listen, you focus on one source of sound, such as the voice of the person you are talking to or the TV show you are watching. Your brain automatically filters out background noise, such as traffic noise, background music, or other conversations happening around you. This can be difficult in some circumstances, and it can be especially challenging if you have hearing loss. However, with practice, you can train your brain to better hear in noise.
Background Noise and Hearing Aids
When you first start using hearing aids, you may find that it is more difficult than it used to be to filter out background noise. This may be because your hearing aids amplify all sounds, not just the ones you want to hear. Do not give in to the temptation to take out your hearing aids. Instead, learn to use your hearing aids’ features to better hear in noise.
With today’s hearing aid technology, you can choose from settings and filters that you may control from your phone, such as background noise reduction. This technology is known as digital signal processing (DSP), which is designed to identify background noise and lower its volume.
Many hearing aids also come with directional microphones, which allow you to choose the direction of sound you want to focus on. For example, if you are attending a concert or play, you can set your aids to focus on the sounds coming from in front of you rather than behind you.
If you are often in situations with lots of background noise, it is best to talk to your hearing aid specialist about the types of hearing aids that will work best for your needs. Your hearing specialist will also be able to help you learn how to use the settings for your hearing aids to best filter out background noise.
Train Your Brain to Hear Better in Noise
In addition to using hearing aids that can filter out background noise, you may also want to try auditory training. The goal of auditory training is to help you learn to more easily distinguish speech from other noise. There are many hearing training apps and programs available on your computer or mobile phone. If you would like more help than an app can offer, you can ask your hearing specialist about auditory rehabilitation.
Auditory training usually targets three key skills needed for effective communication:
- Working memory — Working memory is necessary during conversation to remember words and their context. Research suggests that declines in working memory can decrease speech understanding in older people.
- Auditory processing speed — This usually drops as you age, which explains why older people often have trouble keeping up with normal speech speeds.
- Auditory attention — This skill enables you to filter out distractions and focus on one sound, such as a voice.
With auditory training and hearing aids, you can hear better in noise. To learn more, please contact our hearing specialist today.