Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

In Hearing Health, Tips and Tricks by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

Hearing loss comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people have particular frequency ranges that are difficult to hear, and many people mention that they have trouble hearing particular sounds or individuals’ voices. Other people have trouble with hearing all kinds of quiet sounds, so they tend to turn up the volume on televisions and other audio. Despite these individual features of hearing loss, one thing tends to make hearing difficult for most people with hearing loss: background noise. It makes sense that competing noise in the background would make it hard for people to hear. When you are trying to focus on a person’s voice or a particular sound, competing noise in the background can make it very difficult to pull apart these sounds in your mind. Let’s take a moment to think about some strategies for better hearing when you are in the presence of background noise.

Conversations at Restaurants

Background noise can be a serious problem at restaurants. In some cases, the background noise simply comes from the voices of other people in the space, all trying to hear the people at their tables. The architecture of many restaurants can make it more difficult to hear, particularly when smooth surfaces and high ceilings let sound bounce around and reverberate before returning to your ears. When background music is added into the mix, it can become even more difficult than ever. 

How can you work to hear the people at your table in this mélange of background sound? Your position in the room can make a big difference. You can ask the host to help you find a quiet place in the room, and often this person will already know the perfect spot behind a separating wall or away from the crowd. You can position yourself in the center of your table, as well. Trying to listen and join from the end of a table is the most difficult position, so solicit the help of your dining party to make it easier to hear what they have to say. You might want to look ahead at the menu online to figure out your order before you arrive. This process can make it easier to order and mention all your selections without needing to converse with the server too much. If you find yourself struggling to hear, you can ask someone in your group to help you relay information and to pass along questions from the group. 

Seeking Help from Others

In other places where background noise is a challenge, the most important step you can take is to seek out help from others. Although you might be able to help yourself in some environments, getting others to assist you can really make the difference between understanding what others have to say and struggling to hear. When there is background noise in a room, you can ask others to move with you to a quieter environment. If you have a loved one who is willing to assist you, they can serve as an impromptu interpreter, passing along questions or important pieces of information at a closer distance where you can hear. In some instances, you can simply ask others to turn down the volume on background music, and you might be surprised how many people are willing to oblige to help accommodate your needs. 

Treatment for Hearing Loss

The only durable solution to the problems posed by background noise is to seek treatment for hearing loss. Abiding by some tips and seeking help from others can only go so far, and you will inevitably find yourself in another environment where hearing is difficult. The latest hearing aids are equipped with features that reduce the sound of background noise relative to the sound of voices at a close distance, and many of them use voice recognition technology to emphasize the voice of a particular speaker amidst the din of other voices. These innovations are more reason than ever to seek out treatment for hearing loss. When you have hearing aids in place, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to navigate settings where background noise competes with your ability to hear what you need. 

Bary E. Williams Au.D.
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