Why can't I hear properly in noisy places?

Why can't I hear properly?

One of the first signs of hearing loss is when someone, who typically hears well in quiet environments, asks the question 'Why can't I hear in noisy places?' 

Even for someone with normal hearing, noisy settings can be tricky to navigate when trying to make out speech. That’s because we all tend to use contextual cues — or clues from words we do make out — to fill in the gaps we miss or don’t make out due to background noise. 

Background noise tends to mask the finer sounds of speech — like higher-pitched consonants — which makes it difficult for even those with normal hearing thresholds to hear properly in noisy places. 

Add to that, the variable of hearing loss, and these situations can be incredibly strenuous, as the brain is not always able to separate speech from the background noise and fill in the blanks of those missed sounds. Even when it can, the cognitive fatigue that we undergo in these situations can be exhausting. This is when you ask the question 'Why has my hearing deteriorated?' 

Why is it so hard to hear in noise? 

How do hearing aids work in noisy places to help you hear properly?

Hearing aids are incredible technology that use some key differences between speech and noise to separate the two types of auditory stimulus (sounds) from one another.

Noise tends to be more steady-state, meaning it does not have much fluctuation in its frequencies (pitch) or amplitude (loudness). Speech, however, tends to be highly variable in both frequency and amplitude. 

Hearing aids work to analyse and distinguish all sounds coming into the microphones, then treat noise and speech differently so that the target signal — speech — is amplified and prioritised, while the background noise is compressed not enhanced. 

You can experience this difference for yourself by clicking here to find a hearing professional in your area or by calling 0800 042 0000.

By Starkey Hearing Technologies blog