Sometimes, good hearing aids just aren’t enough. There are so many things that go into “good hearing,” from having a good diagnostic test to choosing the right hearing healthcare professional to purchasing the right instrument for your hearing loss. Once you’ve gone through the process, the last thing you want to hear is that you might still have trouble hearing in some instances, especially in situations with background noise. But for many people, this is exactly the case and it can be very frustrating!
So why is it that good hearing aids are just not enough?
Well, it generally has to do with the ear more than the hearing aids. You see, when there is hearing loss, there is damage to the ear in some capacity. That damage cannot generally be undone. So, while hearing aids make sound louder, the sound still has to be processed through the damaged system. The damaged system can cause distortion of the sound, which makes it difficult to hear clearly at times. In addition, we listen with our brains, not with our ears. So, once the sound makes it past the damaged ear, the sound has to be processed and made sense of. If there is any change in the brain from long-term hearing loss or if the brain cannot hold on to information for an adequate amount of time, what is heard can be lost. The listener has only one recourse – ask for the speaker to repeat themselves. Inevitably, the response is, “aren’t you wearing your hearing aids?”
So what can you do when even good hearing aids aren’t enough?
There are several different things to try if you’re having trouble hearing in noise, even with your noise reduction hearing aids. The first is a system called LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement). LACE is an auditory training program done at home on your computer. It is a month-long intensive program that requires 30 minutes of your day to improve the way the brain uses the information it gets. Another good way to help improve hearing in noise is a system like ReSound’s Unite Mini Microphone. The Mini Mic can be clipped to your speaking partner, left on a podium or set in the middle of a table during a round-table discussion, dinner or meeting. The Mini Mic is a small device that sends sound directly to the hearing aids. By putting the Mini Mic close to the person you’d like to hear, you are essentially decreasing the distance between the speaker and the ear and thus, background noise interference can be reduced significantly.
If you have noise reduction hearing aids but are still having difficulty hearing in noise, talk with your Audiologist about the other options that are available to help improve the way you hear and communicate. We’re here to help!