Do you know the one thing Dr. Cliff says people who wear hearing aids want? It’s not rechargeability, it’s not Bluetooth connectivity, it’s not invisibility and it’s not even a lower price…… it’s the ability to hear better in background noise!
In this video, we asked Dr. Cliff to share his thoughts on three things you can do to hear better in background noise.
Unfortunately, hearing better in background noise can be difficult, but there are at least three things you can do to dramatically improve how well you function in these noisy environments.
Dr. Cliff shared several reasons why understanding speech in background noise is difficult:
1. Background noise tends to be more low frequency in nature.
- Most individuals with hearing loss have good low frequency hearing with not great mid and high frequency hearing.
- It creates an effect of them being able to hear the background noise really well, but you don’t have access to the high frequency speech components to separate speech from noise.
2. Everybody needs at least some separation from background noise in order to hear what’s being said.
- This is called Signal-to-Noise Ratio Loss (SNR Loss). SNR Loss is how much speech you need above the background noise before you can understand what’s being said.
- For example, if you have a measured SNR Loss score of five decibels, then you need the speech of the person you want to hear to be five decibels louder than the background noise.
Dr. Cliff also provided a Pro Tip to further help you hear better in background noise:
- If you don’t know your SNR Loss score, you can identify this number by visiting a hearing care professional that follows best practices and who administers a speech and noise test. This test will give you your exact score and will help you identify what types of hearing aids and accessories you need to hear better.
3. If you have hearing loss, there may be some damage that has occurred to the outer hearing cells (OHCs) inside of the Cochlea, which is your hearing organ.
- Most people don’t realize your brain plays a significant role in noise reduction by controlling your outer hair cells. Healthy outer hair cells are responsible for increasing the vibration of sound to make sure the sound can actually reach your brain. The other function outer hair cells have is to suppress the amount of noise that’s transmitted up the auditory nerve to the brain with the brain’s help.
- Unfortunately, most people with hearing loss have significant damage to these outer hair cells. This means your ears can’t restrict the amount of noise that goes up to your brain.
Dr. Cliff also recommended three things you can do to hear better in a background noise situation:
1. You can get closer to the person you want to hear when you are in a noisy situation.
- People end up leaning into the person they want to hear. This is because it increases the volume of their voice in decibels, and if you improve the Signal-to-Noise Ratio enough to overcome your SNR Loss score, then you’re going to hear them better.
- There are sound level meter apps available for download on your smartphone that help measure the amount of background noise and that measure the volume of the person’s voice you’re talking to. If you know your SNR Loss score, this makes it easier to calculate how close you should be to the person you want to hear before you can understand them.
2. Get a hearing aid that has specifically been designed to help you hear better in background noise.
- The ReSound OMNIA Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aid is one of those hearing aids.
- ReSound had a singular goal in mind when developing the ReSound OMNIA hearing aids, which was to create a hearing aid that could help you hear substantially better in a noisy situation.
- This hearing aid improves your Signal-to-Noise Ratio by a whopping 4.5 decibels over their previous generation, ReSound ONE technology, which is huge when it comes to hearing better in background noise.
- According to ReSound, this Signal-to-Noise Ratio improvement is equivalent to 150% better speech understanding in noise compared to their previous generation technology. This means you won’t have to get all up in your friend’s face to be able to understand what they’re saying, especially in a noisy situation.
3. You can also use an assistive listening device.
- Devices like remote microphones can help you dramatically improve how well you hear in a background noise situation. To use the microphone device, you take it and clip it on the shirt of the person you want to hear. It then takes the person’s voice and sends it directly into both of your hearing aids before a bunch of background noise can mix into it.
- While using a remote microphone like the ReSound Multi Mic® or the ReSound Micro Mic®, you can improve the Signal-to-Noise Ratio by up to 20 decibels. It’s the difference between not hearing a single thing your friend is saying at a restaurant, and hearing everything they’re saying without a problem.
He shares that ReSound achieved better performance in background noise by improving these key things about the ReSound OMNIA hearing aid:
1. There is improved transition speed between their different program settings.
- In ReSound’s All Around Program within the ReSound OMNIA hearing aids, you can transition between seven different automatic program settings and do it substantially better than what ReSound could with their previous generation technology.
- This means you don’t have to wait for your hearing aids to switch into the proper settings, giving you better speech understanding and background noise a lot faster.
2. It offers 360 degrees sound awareness.
- By taking sounds from the opposite side of your head and transitioning them to your other ear, it actually fills in this dead space you have from the head shadow effect, so you can actually get better sound awareness from that opposite side.
- And since ReSound takes the approach of making one of your hearing aids directional and the other one omnidirectional, it gives you better sound awareness around you and also good speech understanding from in front of you.
3. Perhaps the most important feature that ReSound has improved upon to achieve this 4.5 decibel Signal-to-Noise Ratio improvement was a redesign of their microphone beamformer.
- ReSound engineers performed modeling to include the head, neck, and toro when determining which sounds they needed to cancel to reduce the perception of background noise. This dramatically improved their ability to do this noise cancellation with the new ReSound OMNIA hearing aids, compared to their previous generation technology.
- Closing the distance between you and the person you want to hear and getting better hearing aid technology are not the only things you can do to hear better in a background noise situation.
Achieving better hearing in background noise situations doesn’t have to be impossible. You have to understand what makes hearing in background noise more difficult and employ the best practices to help you hear better. We encourage you to reach out to your hearing care professional to learn more about how you can hear better in background noise. If you are interested in trying ReSound OMNIA hearing aids, you can find a hearing care professional near you at: https://www.resound.com/find-a-professional.
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