Improving Outcome of Wearing Hearing Aids In Noise

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by Garth Brears, M.S., Aud(C) Clinical Audiologist

As I have mentioned previously, when people are upset about noise they often redirect their frustration against the hearing aid. They often state with great passion that it simply does not work while noise is present.

I try to make the point that hearing aids make you hear; they do not make you understand. This is why people with normal hearing can continue to understand in noisy places. It is not their normal hearing which leads to understanding; it’s their increased level of focus that leads to understanding.

Two major issues for hearing aid wearers:

  • They can no longer hear a sound as far away as they used to (which was defined as a hearing loss in an earlier article)
  • They can no longer focus with the intensity that is needed in order to understand speed in noise.

A person contemplating using hearing aids must grasp the idea that more focus is needed to understand in a room full of distraction than in a quiet place.

Hearing aids improve your hearing, which means hearing people and things at greater distances than you could without a hearing aid. Better focus ability increases your ability to understand in noisy place.

Better focus reduces the complaint “I am not hearing in noise“, whether you wear a hearing aid or not!

Another question is: Does a hearing aid have to ruin your ability in noise to focus?

No! Not at all, in fact just the opposite occurs if you leave them in your ears long enough. Specifically, if you leave the hearing aids in your ears for longer and longer periods, especially while communicating in noise. Should you decide to do this, you will find that unconsciously, your compensating skills will begin to rise up to the occasion. When those skills improve, your understanding in noise will improve!

As I pointed out previously, if your understanding improves in noise, you won’t even be aware of the thing called NOISE!

From what I have observed, most people do not want to use hearing aids in noise because it immediately makes focus more difficult. Therefore, they take them out and go back to the old way of communicating, which involves worn-out focus strategies that do not work in noise. However, it is easier to do what is known, then to re-learn and develop new strategies which are going to take time and work.

This is also referred to as “AURAL REHABILITATION”, which begins only after you start wearing your hearing aids. If you want to get all that you can from your hearing aids, and hear all that you can hear, and understand all that you are able to understand then wear your hearing aids in noise… A LOT!

Are there specific things you can do to improve your understanding in noise faster, other than just wearing hearing aids in noise?