If you have hearing loss, you know how challenging it can be to participate in a conversation that was once so effortless. With or without hearing loss treatment, there are steps you can take to make hearing and understanding easier. This New Year, make a resolution to start the year with better hearing!
Ways to Improve your Hearing and Understanding
Early treatment, most often in the form of hearing aids, is always best. With that said, even with hearing aids, it can be difficult at times to communicate, these communication tools are useful in those situations.
- Reduce background noise– Is there a television or music on in the background? Are you in a crowded room or restaurant? Try turning down the background noise if you can, or move to a quieter space to continue your conversation. If you are making plans to go to a restaurant, call ahead and make a reservation requesting a quieter area of the restaurant.
- Well-lit spaces– This may sound counter-intuitive but seeing is hearing. Being able to see the person you are speaking with can actually improve your hearing. While candles or dimly lit spaces may seem more intimate, if you cannot hear the person you are with then they are actually more of a nuisance. Make sure to keep the lights at a level where you can see.
- Face to face– Keeping in mind that seeing helps you hear, make sure that you are face to face and at eye level with those you are speaking to. Make sure that you each have each other’s attention before speaking rather than talking to someone from across the room or even from another room.
Treatment for Hearing Loss
The number one way to improve your hearing is, of course, treatment. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of hearing loss, make an appointment with an audiologist to take a hearing test.
Hearing tests, or audiograms, are taken by sitting in a small soundproof room with headphones on. Through the headphones, beeps of various frequencies and volumes will play in each ear separately. When you hear a beep you will press a button in your hand. These button clicks are then used to graph what each ear hears.
The graph shows frequency on the horizontal axis and volume on the vertical axis. There are two lines of different colors that show each ear separately. This information is used to program individualized digital hearing aids.
Hearing aids are the most common form of treatment for age-related hearing loss. As described, digital hearing aids can be programmed to exactly match the amount of hearing loss a person has. In the instance of age-related hearing loss, higher frequencies of sound are typically impacted while lower frequencies remain unchanged. For this, hearing aids would not amplify the lower frequencies, only modifying the needed sounds.
In addition to meeting the exact hearing needs of each person, hearing aids now have a number of special features that work to make hearing and understanding even easier.
- Remember when we talked about reducing background noise to help hear conversations? Well, digital hearing aids actually have settings that can do this for you. For example, when at a restaurant and facing the person you are speaking to, your hearing aids will automatically reduce the surrounding noise.
- Furthermore, digital hearing aids have something called directional microphones. These microphones focus in and amplify the sound you are facing. In the restaurant example above, not only are they reducing that background noise but they can also amplify the sound of the person you are facing and speaking to.
- Lastly, modern day hearing aids can be equipped with Bluetooth technology. This means they can connect to any other Bluetooth capable device. Smart phones, smart televisions, or music listening devices, just to name a few, can be played through your hearing aid and directly into your ears.
The communication tools provided can be added to your hearing strategy to hear better right now! If you are experiencing any hearing loss, make an appointment today with an audiologist to take a hearing test, discuss treatment options, and start your New Year with better hearing!