Communication can be difficult in noisy environments, even for hearing aid wearers. The presence of background noise can muffle sound, making it challenging to hear clearly. Identifying words, complex sounds, and following an entire conversation becomes harder to do. Background noise provides your brain with competing sound to process, distracting from focusing on the conversation you are having.
People may experience these communication challenges while in restaurants, commuting on public transportation, and even at home. But there are useful ways you can minimize the impact of background noise, that allow you to hear and communicate more effectively. Helpful tips to maximize your hearing in environments with background noise includes the following:
Wear Two Hearing Aids
You have probably wondered if wearing two hearing aids is better than wearing one. There is often emphasis on the importance of two hearing aids because it facilitates binaural hearing. This refers to the use of both ears to hear which allows people to not only hear more clearly, but be able to better decipher where sound is coming from. Both ears being able to participate in the process of absorbing and processing noise in turn helps the brain process and understand sound. Binaural hearing helps people better identify where sound is coming from, improving hearing in noisier settings.
When you can, reduce your exposure to loud background noise. This is more difficult to do in environments like restaurants, bars, public transportation etc. But try to avoid loud places, opting in for quieter environments that are more conducive for easy conversation. Also, reduce or eliminate the background noise in your home during conversations. This could mean turning off the television, music, podcasts etc. that may be playing in the background. Avoid engaging in activities like cooking and cleaning while also trying to talk with others. This kind of multitasking makes it more difficult to hear and also pay attention to what someone else is saying. You can also reduce the background noise in your care (rolling up the windows, turning down the music).
Avoid Busy Times
The background noise in public settings is often out of your control. One useful way to reduce the impact it can have on communication is by avoiding the peak hours. Restaurants, parks, bars etc. all have a range of time where there is maximum traffic. Do your best to avoid these times (6pm dinner time for example) by scheduling around peak hours. You can always go online to find out what the busy times are of a place or call in advance.
By thinking about your hearing needs in advance, you can do some planning to help things go as smoothly as possible. For example, if you plan on dining out, there are simple steps you can take to maximize your hearing including:
- look up the menu online, familiarizing yourself with the options can make ordering quick and simple
- ask for a table in a quieter area, booths are also preferable
- your seating should also be in an area that is well lit so that everyone is clearly visible
Doing what you can do to plan for your hearing needs in advance can really help create an environment that is more accessible for hearing.
Communicate Hearing Needs
It is always important to communicate your hearing needs. This is one of the most useful ways to engage in effective communication. You are an expert on your own hearing health. This means that you know the strategies that best support your hearing in the environments you are in.
It is incredibly helpful to share these strategies with the people in your life so that they can also participate in creating spaces that support your needs. Effective communication is everyone’s responsibility so sharing your hearing needs allows others to make the necessary adjustments. This could include:
- Directly facing you and being clearly visible. Mouths should not be blocked or covered.
- Grabbing your attention before speaking so that you are ready for the conversation.
- Rephrasing rather than repeating.
- Avoid texting or other activities that can make it more challenging to hear and follow along.
If you have experienced changes in your hearing, it is important to schedule a hearing test. We’re here to help! Contact us today to make an appointment for a comprehensive hearing test.