Your hearing aids and background noise
How a hearing aid performs in background noise is perhaps the subject we discuss with our patients most frequently. To understand this topic, it’s important to understand some fundamentals of acoustics:
• If the speech you are listening to is louder than the background noise, you will likely understand the speech.
• If the speech you are listening to is the same loudness as the background noise, your ability to understand the speech decreases significantly.
• If the speech you are listening to is softer than the background noise, you will NOT hear the speech.
The acoustics of your environment also come into play. Take a look around. Are the wall surfaces hard (brick, wood, concrete)? Hard surfaces reflect rather than absorb sound. Are there any soft materials that help absorb noise (curtains, acoustic tiles, wall hangings, carpets)?
Today’s trendy restaurants often do not take into account how their architectural designs can amplify noise. Find a restaurant that pays attention to your listening comfort or choose a time to dine that’s earlier or later than the evening rush.
Another tip: today’s hearing instruments use microphones and computer processing to deal with background noise. In order for these circuits to work best, it’s important to choose a restaurant seat that puts the noise behind you and the folks you want to hear in front of you. (For years, people with hearing aids were told to sit with their back to the wall, but now you want your back to the noise.)